Soccer bonanza: Saudi national league matches to be free-to-air

Saudi fans wave the national flag and chant during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah on October 11 2016 . (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2017
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Soccer bonanza: Saudi national league matches to be free-to-air

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has ordered all the Kingdom’s football league matches be free-to-air, stressing that it is people’s right to watch the league at no cost.
Turki Al-Asheikh, head of the General Sports Authority and adviser at the Royal Court, said the crown prince has instructed the authority not to encrypt matches and deprive Saudis of watching their favorite teams playing.
“The crown prince directed that citizens should (be able to) watch the league for free and we are now looking for a mechanism that benefits all parties concerned: Sports clubs and carrier/broadcasters without affecting the people,” Al-Asheikh said in an interview on “Action Ya Dawry,” sports show.
“So the matches will be free. There may be some encryption for broadcasting the highest quality, exclusive programs, specific analysis studios and software services to benefit the sports club and the carrier/broadcaster, as well as the viewer who will benefit from these additional services,” he added.
Remarking on the crown prince’s involvement in the order, Al-Asheikh said: “Such a decision wouldn’t have been taken without his support.”
The decision came after several media outlets reported that the channels owning the league’s rights had decided to encrypt the league from the beginning of the next sports season.

The Saudi professional league had officially requested FIFA encode the league matches from August 2018 when the season starts.
The league made a joint request at its meeting requesting that the encryption of league matches was accelerated to help save clubs financially.
Meanwhile sport fans have inevitably reacted positively to the ruling, praising the Crown Prince.


Saudi flag makes underwater journey for National Day

Updated 9 min 52 sec ago
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Saudi flag makes underwater journey for National Day

JEDDAH: A group of divers in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan province marked the Kingdom’s founding with an undersea tribute to the national symbol on Monday.
They carried the Saudi flag in the Red Sea at a depth of 88 feet — the Kingdom was founded eighty-eight years ago by King Abdulaziz.
The divers began their underwater commemoration on the tourist side of Jazan and headed to a site near the island of Ahbar.