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The New Arab Staff

Saudi Arabia permanently terminates licence for Qatar's beIN Sports

Last month, the World Trade Organisation ruled in beIN Sports' favour against Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 July, 2020

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Saudi Arabia has permanently terminated the license of Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports.
Saudi Arabia has permanently terminated the license of Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, the kingdom's General Authority for Competition (GAC) announced on Tuesday.

Riyadh blocked transmission of beIN Sports in 2017, following a blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt that year.

The GAC said it has determined Doha-based beIN Sports - which has regional coverage rights for major sporting events such as the Premier League - to have "abused its dominant position through several monopolistic practices".

In addition to permanently cancelling beIN Sports' license in Saudi Arabia, the GAC has fined the broadcaster 10 million Saudi riyals.

Last month, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled in Qatar's favour after Doha filed a complaint in 2018 about Saudi Arabia's alleged breaches of trade rules and illegal business practices.

It included charges that Saudi Arabia illegally blocked transmission of beIN Sports and Riyadh's alleged links to the pirate sports broadcaster beoutQ.

BeoutQ had reportedly been illegally streaming beIN Sports' exclusive regional coverage of English Premier League games and other European football leagues.

The WTO strongly condemned Saudi Arabia for breaking intellectual property rights over its refusal to take action against beoutQ.

The decision could impact on Saudi Arabia's controversial £300 million bid to to purchase an 80 percent stake in Premier League team Newcastle United.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund's (PIF) bid is being stalled by concerns over Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's links to human rights abuses, including the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the imprisonment of a number of activists in the kingdom.

Rights groups have criticised the PIF's bid to buy out the club, saying it would be a greenlight for Saudi Arabia to continue its human rights abuses and allow it to partake in "sports washing".

Saudi Arabia and its allies cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in 2017 over claims Doha supports terrorism, which Qatar denies.

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