Saudi sports chief: BeIN SPORTS violates FIFA principles, fair play

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Turki Al-Sheikh



RIYADH — In a series of tweets on Thursday, Chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority Turki Al-Sheikh directly addressed the chief of the world governing body of football FIFA, Gianni Infantino, to reconsider the Qatari-owned BeIN SPORTS channel’s TV broadcasting rights in the region.

This follows the formal complaint filed earlier this week by the Saudi Football Federation with FIFA over BeIN SPORTS using its exclusive rights to the 2018 World Cup to broadcast politicized messages aimed at Saudi Arabia and its leaders.

Al-Sheikh called on the FIFA chief “not to allow Al-Jazeera network, which sponsors and supports terrorism, and its affiliate beIN SPORTS to exploit their broadcast of sports championships to violate the regulations of FIFA and the principles of fair play in order to propagate and implement Qatar’s government agendas.”

He said that FIFA being the owner of the World Cup rights “is responsible for what beIN SPORTS broadcasts in case firm and decisive actions have not been taken.” More significantly, Al-Sheikh commented: “Much remains to be said about the World Cup 2022.”

It was widely commented that the channel’s commentating and broadcast of the opening World Cup match between Saudi Arabia and hosts Russia were very one-sided. Following the broadcast of the match, Al-Sheikh had stated: “Necessary legal action will be taken in relation to BeIN wrongdoings against K.S.A, its sports & officials, and for exploiting sports to achieve political goals. This proves Saudi authorities’ true stance when banning this network from airing on its soil.”

Earlier this week, Saudi Football Federation has filed a formal complaint with FIFA. In its complaint, the Federation said that the channel “abused the ethics of sports after the opening match between Saudi Arabia and host nation Russia through its presenters and analysts contrary to the laws of the International Federation which stresses the need to exclude sport from politics.”

The complaint urges FIFA “to take the necessary and severe sanctions against the Qatari channel and the abolition of the rights of transport protection of the system, and to avoid the exploitation of sport in the objectives of political bias distorting the game and hit the ethics.”

Thursday’s tweet by Al-Sheikh puts the issue firmly before FIFA authorities. — Al Arabiya English


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