beIN set to sue AFC, which yielded to Saudi pressure and breached channel’s rights
Qatar’s beIN Sport has been at the receiving end of a sophisticated pirating operation based in Saudi Arabia ever since the illegal siege of Qatar started in June 2017.
Despite repeated efforts to shut it down, the pirate channel beoutQ continues to beam unhindered.
And now, beIN Media is set to launch a major international legal dispute against the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for material breach of its multi-million dollar broadcast agreement, reported Gulf Times.
The AFC, on Tuesday, had announced that it would live-stream matches featuring Saudi Arabian clubs in the AFC Asian Champions League for free into Saudi Arabia on the AFC’s digital channels.
Since the start of the illegal blockade, Saudi Arabia had unlawfully and overnight forced beIN, the legitimate pay-TV broadcaster for all AFC competitions in Mena region, out of the country.
Rather than tackling Saudi Arabia’s illegal measures against its legitimate broadcaster, the AFC — in apparent collusion with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) — unilaterally decided to live-stream Saudi-related matches on the AFC’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels, according to Qatar Tribune.
In what is an apparent political move by the AFC, seemingly in full collaboration with SAFF (which pre-emptively announced the AFC’s plans 24 hours earlier), the Confederation’s decision undermines the central condition of its regional broadcast agreement with beIN, namely the grant of exclusive rights.
As a result, beIN has decided to launch international legal proceedings against the AFC immediately. beIN will continue to broadcast all its rights, including all AFC tournaments and matches, on its channels across the MENA region.
beIN has been the long-standing broadcast partner of the AFC in the MENA region and other territories for nearly ten years, being one of the most significant revenue streams for the AFC and helping to fund and support the rapid development of Asian football.
“The AFC’s decision to live-stream directly into Saudi Arabia on the AFC’s digital platforms is a material breach of our multi-million dollar regional broadcast agreement, and we'll immediately be launching a major international dispute to recover damages and protect our position," said beIN’s Chief Executive Officer Yousef Al Obaidly.
“The AFC’s decision is not only a self-harming financial decision and a clear political play with Saudi Arabia, but most damagingly it'll impact rights holders across sports and entertainment around the world. There's now no guaranteed protection of intellectual property in the region due to the AFC in effect endorsing Saudi Arabia’s theft of world sport and wholesale disregard for the international rule of law,” he added.