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

TV cameras film during the Russia 2018 World Cup. (AFP)
Updated 21 June 2018
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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.


CNN seeks hearing after White House again vows to rescind Jim Acosta’s press pass

Updated 19 November 2018
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CNN seeks hearing after White House again vows to rescind Jim Acosta’s press pass

  • Acosta’s credentials were revoked after Trump denounced him as a “rude, terrible person” during a Nov. 7 news conference
  • CNN challenged the move in court and on Friday won a ruling that temporarily reinstated Acosta

WASHINGTON: CNN on Monday called on a federal court to hold emergency proceedings after the White House said it would again revoke press access to correspondent Jim Acosta despite a temporary restraining order on Friday to reinstate him.
Acosta’s credentials were revoked after Trump denounced him as a “rude, terrible person” during a Nov. 7 news conference. CNN challenged the move in court and on Friday won a ruling that temporarily reinstated Acosta while the court considers the news network’s lawsuit over the ouster.
In a filing on Monday, CNN and Acosta asked for an expedited hearing next week after top White House communications officials told Acosta in a letter late on Friday that it had already decided to suspend his press once the two-week restraining order expires.
The White House opposed the request for an emergency hearing, writing in response to the court: “Not only is there no ‘emergency’ right now, it is impossible to know at this point whether next steps are necessary, much less what those steps should be.”
It said the White House expected to make its final decision on Acosta credentials by 3pm. EST on Friday.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders and White House communications chief Bill Shine had earlier told Acosta that it had made a “preliminary decision” backed by Trump.
When US District Judge Timothy Kelly temporarily restored Acosta’s credentials, he said the White House had failed to provide due process. He did not address any alleged violations of free speech, protected by the US Constitution’s First Amendment.
Trump, who has long blasted the media and often targeted Acosta, said on “Fox News Sunday” the judge’s decision was “not a big deal” and that the White House would establish rules for the press. Asked what they would entail, he said: “We’re going to write them up right now ... we’ll have rules of decorum, you know, you can’t keep asking questions.” Despite the filing, Acosta and CNN said they “remain hopeful” the dispute could be resolved outside of court, they wrote.
At the contentious news conference a day after Trump’s Republicans lost their majority in the US House of Representatives, Trump erupted into anger when Acosta questioned him about the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and a migrant caravan traveling through Mexico.