Fars News sinks to new depths with fake Saudi warship story

The actual Saudi warship, Al-Madinah, returned to base in Jeddah after completing its Yemen mission. (SPA)
Updated 07 February 2017
0

Fars News sinks to new depths with fake Saudi warship story

JEDDAH: An Iranian news agency has been widely mocked for a report about a Saudi warship that “sunk” — on the same day the actual vessel docked at a naval base in Jeddah. 
The semi-official Fars News Agency posted a story that claimed a Saudi frigate had been destroyed, accompanied by a picture of a sinking ship.
But as eagle-eyed Twitter users pointed out, this was yet another example of “fake news.”
The picture used to illustrate the Fars News story was actually that of a US Navy ship sunk by a torpedo from an Australian submarine during a 2012 military exercise.
The real Saudi ship had actually returned to base on Sunday morning after completing its mission, despite having been targeted last month by Houthi suicide attackers. 
Many Twitter users commented on the Fars story, pointing out the attempted deception and accusing the outlet of producing “fake news.”
The award-winning journalist, Yaroslav Trofimov, who writes a column on the greater Middle East for The Wall Street Journal, tweeted: “Funny how Iranian state news agency illustrates Saudi frigate with the photo of USS Kilauea, sank in 2012.”
Others posted links to accounts of the fate of the 12,100-ton Kilauea, which was purposefully sunk during a military exercise in the Pacific Ocean.
Numerous pictures — one of which was misappropriated by Fars — show the US vessel being used in target practice.
The Fars story also implied that “Yemeni missiles” downed the Saudi warship, saying without solid evidence that Israeli authorities are worried about the firepower used in the claimed attack.
But as a video of the Houthi assault on the Saudi warship shows, the damage to the boat was inflicted after one of the attacker boats rammed into the rear of the Saudi vessel.
Two Saudi crew members were killed and three others were injured in the suicide attack on the Al-Madinah warship, part of the Royal Saudi Navy, in late January.
Despite that attack, pictures show the warship returning to the King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah, after completing its duties without any delay as a result of the attack by the Iran-backed insurgents.
It is not the first time Fars has got in hot water over fake news.
In 2012 it was moved to apologize to readers for republishing a news article by the US satirical website The Onion — but claiming it as fact.
Fars picked up a story about a made-up survey showing that the majority of rural white Americans would rather vote for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the then Iranian president, than Barack Obama, according to press reports at the time.
As one Twitter user posted following Fars News’s more recent story on the Saudi warship: “Farce News to be more accurate!”


Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

Updated 19 June 2018
0

Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

  • Broadcast of political messages in coverage forbidden, analyst confirms.
  • Saudi football federation urges FIFA to sanction the Doha-owned channel.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has a justified case in complaining to FIFA over the “politicization” of the World Cup by the Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports, a prominent TV analyst has said.
A flurry of comments by hosts and pundits aired on BeIN’s Arabic station prompted the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to complain to FIFA this week, saying the broadcaster was using the football tournament to spread political messages aimed at insulting Saudi Arabia and its leaders.
In its complaint, the federation called on FIFA to take severe sanctions against the Qatari channel and to abolish the rights granted to the network.
One BeIN commentator accused Saudi Arabia of “selling out the Palestinian cause,” while a Doha-based international footballer invited on the channel was allowed to call for an end to the year-long boycott of Qatar by neighbors Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, principal TV research analyst at IHS Markit Technology, said that politicized coverage was expressly forbidden by world football’s governing body as well as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
“FIFA and UEFA forbid the transmission of political messages during football matches for which they control the rights. It’s not only comments by the broadcasters — but even banners; everything (political) is forbidden,” the analyst told Arab News.
“So messages about Palestine, about political things, are not allowed.”
Papavassilopoulos said that if there is evidence of such cases, authorities in the Kingdom would be justified in taking the matter to FIFA.
“If there are video clips that show BeIN media personnel speaking against Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has a case,” he said.
But whether FIFA will take any action against BeIN is another matter. Papavassilopoulos pointed to the fact that BeIN is a valued client of FIFA — it bought the rights to host the World Cup across the Middle East and North Africa — and that Qatar plans to host the tournament in 2022.
“BeIN media is a very good client for FIFA. And don’t forget that Qatar is the country that will host the 2022 World Cup,” he said. “It’s going to be very very hard for FIFA to impose penalties on BeIN media knowing that Qatar will hold the next World Cup.”
Some of the biggest names in Arab sport have signed a petition to protest against BeIN’s politicization of World Cup coverage, urging FIFA President Gianni Infantino to investigate the coverage.
FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.