The BBC has issued an apology after a reporter asked an “inappropriate” question during a FIFA Women’s World Cup press conference on Monday.
At a press availability before the team’s pool match against Germany, Moroccan captain Ghizlane Chebbak was asked a question about her teammates’ sexuality.
“In Morocco, it’s illegal to have a gay relationship. Do you have any gay players in your squad and what’s life like for them in Morocco?” the BBC reporter asked.
Before Chebbak responded to the question, a FIFA representative in the room interrupted: “Sorry, this is a very political question, so we’ll just stick to questions relating to football.”
The journalist replied: “No, it’s not political, it’s about people, it’s got nothing to do with politics. Please let her answer the question.”
According to the Human Dignity Trust, Morocco criminalizes same-sex sexual activity, with sentences that include a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a fine.
Per The Guardian, a FIFA representative addressed the unnamed BBC journalist on-site immediately after the press conference had ended.
The BBC has since apologized for the question. In a statement issued to CNN a spokesperson said: “We recognise that the question was inappropriate. We had no intention to cause any harm or distress.”
Several reporters in the room explained the reaction from other outlets, with The Athletic’s Steph Yang saying that “some members of the Moroccan media were audibly dismayed by the question.”
Shireen Ahmed of the CBC said that “if reporting harms someone, it is not only unethical but dangerous.”
Upon qualifying, Morocco made history as the first Arab team to compete at the Women’s World Cup. If the team’s defender Nouhaila Benzina gets game-time in the tournament, she will also become the first player to wear the hijab while playing in the World Cup, the Independent reported.