EXCLUSIVE – The footage Qatar did not want YOU to see: Officials snatch Mail reporter’s phone and force her to delete video of chaotic scenes as Ghana fans rush past stadium security

  • Officials snatched Mail reporter Kathryn Batte’s phone from her at Qatar stadium
  • They made her delete footage she had taken of Ghana fans running into stadium
  • Ghana fans without tickets thought to have forced entry to watch Uruguay game
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

For the first time since arriving in Doha I feared for my safety. Yesterday, I saw the ugly side to this World Cup, a side that involved censorship and intimidation – which nearly led to my arrest.

I was outside the Al Janoub stadium ahead of Ghana vs Uruguay. I had been told that at previous Ghana games, free tickets had been handed out to supporters before the security gates.

About an hour before kick-off, Ghana fans began to form queues, with a group of men directing them into three separate lines. 

This queue broke up several times, with fans pushing and shoving each other. There was no sign of security at this point. I started film what was happening.

I was told that the fans were waiting for a government official to arrive and ‘share the tickets’, as he had allegedly done at the previous two games. 

But with less than an hour to go before kick-off, he had not arrived. One of the men involved in the organisation told me the supporters were not going to be given the tickets because they were not behaving properly. 

By the time the match had kicked-off, the group had started to disperse, but suddenly hundreds began running towards the security barriers. 

By now there was a bigger security presence, with police on horses arriving on the scene alongside officers carrying shields. But they could not prevent what became a dangerous stampede towards the entrance. 

I had to get myself out of the way to avoid being knocked over. Several fans without tickets jumped the barriers and were let through by powerless security staff. 

There was a real danger of a crush occurring. Women and children were in tears, with one young girl and her father let inside to escape the distressing scenes.

By the time the match had kicked-off, the group had started to disperse, but suddenly hundreds began running towards the security barriers

I had filmed everything that had happened and shared the videos with my editors. I was standing by the gate after the situation had been controlled when eight security officers approached me.

I was told I had to wait there but given no reason why. I became concerned about why I was not allowed to leave and why nobody could explain what was happening. There were officers either side of me, meaning I could not move in either direction. I just kept being told I had to wait there.

I rang a colleague and put him on speaker phone as I wanted somebody to be able to hear what was happening. After repeatedly asking why I could not leave, one of the security officers said that they had seen me filming and that I did not have the right to do so. 

I explained that I was a journalist with host media accreditation and showed him my approval email confirming this. This was not accepted and I was told that I had to have a printed pass. 

I was then told I had two options, to either delete all of the video I had taken or be escorted to the police.

I had to get myself out of the way to avoid being knocked over. Several fans without tickets jumped the barriers and were let through by powerless security staff

(The exchange, as recorded by my colleague)

Kathryn: I have host media access. My name is on the system.

Guard: You have to have a physical pass that allows you to film. You have two choices you erase everything you take or (muffled).

K: You want me to delete everything I have? All video or be arrested? Yes?

K: I have an email that say access has been granted. I can delete.

G: I need to make sure. Are you on the phone now?

K: Yes to my boss.

I agreed to delete the videos but they insisted they had to check the phone as well as my email and WhatsApp account to check I had not sent it to anybody. 

I managed to quickly erase the WhatsApp messages that contained the videos

The guard then took a photo of my Hayya card (visa) and checked my email and WhatsApp account before I was told I was free to leave.

This situation needed to be reported. It was dangerous and the authorities are lucky nobody was badly injured. 

Journalists should not be threatened with arrest for doing their job.

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