Saudi looks to German football after losing beIN battle

Saudi government bids for German football rights, after losing beIN Sports court battle
2 min read
24 June, 2020
The WTO has ruled that Saudi Arabia had promoted piracy channel beoutQ.
The Bundesliga is one of Europe's top football leagues [Getty]
Saudi Arabia is preparing a bid for coverage rights of the German Bundesliga football league, after losing a battle with broadcaster beIN Sports at a World Trade Organisation (WTO) court.

A Saudi government official has approached the German league to obtain rights to screen Bundesliga games for the MENA region, according to The Financial Times, which is currently held by the Qatar-based broadcaster.

BeIN Sports is in talks with the league to extend its exclusive MENA coverage rights for Bundesliga games, when its current $250m five-year deal expires at the end of this season.

"Saudi Arabia has approached Germany's Bundesliga over acquiring the football league's television rights in the Middle East, in the latest move by the Gulf kingdom to seek new investments in international sport," the FT reported.

"A representative for the Saudi state recently contacted Bundesliga seeking to acquire the Middle East rights instead, according to people with knowledge of the situation."

The reason for the bid could be due to Qatar's beIN Sports being currently engaged in negotiations to extend rights for German domestic league games past this end of the season.

Saudi Arabia has a bitter relationship with neighbouring Qatar, having launched a blockade on the country in 2017. It has also engaged in a number of other hostile acts against Doha.

Qatar has accused Saudi Arabia of being behind the formation of beoutQ and its illegal broadcast of beIN Sport's exclusive MENA coverage of English, Italian, Spanish and German football games.

The WTO last week ruled in beIN Sports' favour in a dispute over the piracy charges.

Saudi Arabia is currently in a bidding race to buy Premier League club Newcastle Unied, despite protests from human rights groups due to Riyadh's human rights record.

A decision on whether the Saudi buy-out goes ahead is expected later this week.

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