Saudi claims beIN is “exploiting” World Cup for political ends | Broadcast | News | Rapid TV News
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has accused Qatar’s beIN Media of politicising its broadcast coverage of the ongoing FIFA World Cup, in the latest clash between the two estranged Gulf nations.
World Cup Russia Red Square 18 June 2018

Chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority Turki Al-Sheikh tweeted: “necessary legal action will be taken in relation to beIN wrongdoings against KSA, its sports and officials, and for exploiting sports to achieve political goals.

“This proves Saudi authorities’ true stance when banning this network from airing on its soil,” he added. The comments came after the heavy defeat of Saudi Arabia’s football team at the hands of host Russia, in the opening match of the World Cup last week. Saudi media reports have claimed beIN Sport commentators made political remarks during the live match coverage.

A beIN spokesperson “firmly and comprehensively denied the comments”, saying “the global broadcaster rose above politics”.

He cited the beIN broadcast deal offered to Saudi football fans – and others across the Middle East and North Africa – which gives free access to national teams’ matches during the World Cup, in addition to the recent carriage deals signed with du and Etisalat in the UAE.

It is the latest spat in a year-long dispute, which has seen Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE sever diplomatic ties and impose sanctions on Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”. Doha denies the allegations.

BeIN Media’s pay-TV network and its free-to-air news network Al Jazeera, which receive state funding, have been banned from Saudi Arabia **, although its Sports channels are now available in the UAE .

The dispute has also resulted in a rise in regional content piracy, as sports fans try to access coverage of major leagues and tournaments for which beIN holds the rights.

FIFA and CAF have recently announced they will investigate Saudi Arabian pirate network BeoutQ – and those facilitating it – for illegally showing World Cup and other top international football matches. BeoutQ stands accused of using a signal from Riyadh-based regional satellite provider Arabsat to illegally transmit beIN broadcasts since October 2017.