Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 June 2019

BeIN Sports stripped of exclusive rights to broadcast AFC matches in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian Football Federation received an official letter from the Asian Football Confederation revoking the Qatari broadcaster's monopoly on airing Asian football matches in the Kingdom

The Asian Football Confederation has revoked the monopoly held by BeIN Sports channels on the airing of Asian football matches held in Saudi Arabia. EPA
The Asian Football Confederation has revoked the monopoly held by BeIN Sports channels on the airing of Asian football matches held in Saudi Arabia. EPA

BeIN Sports has lost its exclusive rights to broadcast matches in Saudi Arabia after Asian football's governing body cancelled its licence over what Saudi officials termed "grave violations" by the Qatari broadcaster to obtain licences to air games in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) announced on Tuesday that it had received an official letter from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) revoking BeIN Sports channels' monopoly on airing Asian football matches in its territory.

The AFC said the decision was based on communications and legal reasoning that included BeIN’s “illegal broadcasting”, and the “systemic violations it committed against the Kingdom’s regulations.”

The SAFF welcomed the AFC’s decision describing it as “fair", saying BeIN failed to obtain the necessary licenses to air AFC matches in the Kingdom, according to the statement. The SAFF encouraged all international federations to take similar measures against BeIN, it added.

The decision to strip BeIN of broadcasting rights in the Kingdom comes into effect immediately, starting with Tuesday's Asian Champions League group match between Saudi champions Al Hilal and Qatari club Al Duhail at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh. UAE champions Al Ain and Iranian club Esteghlal make up the other two teams in Group C.

Three other Saudi teams are involved in this year's Asian Champions League - Al Nassr, Al Ittihad and Al Ahli.

AFC-sanctioned matches in Saudi Arabia will instead be broadcast through AFC platforms, according to the SAFF statement. The statement made no mention of whether this would be through TV or online platforms.

The Saudi federation said it would offer a broadcast crew of commentators and analysts and will work out the necessary technical arrangements to help cover the matches.

The decision comes ahead of next month's at the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur.

Voting for the AFC presidency takes place on April 6 where Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Khalifa will seek a third term in office. The other candidates are Emirati Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi and Qatar’s Saoud Al Mohannadi, the AFC vice president.

Updated: March 12, 2019 03:21 PM

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