The New York Times confirmed that the major rapprochement that emerged between the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar during the opening ceremony of the 2022 World Cup did not prevent a “strange dispute” between Doha and Riyadh over the broadcast of the World Cup matches did not originate. .
In a report, the newspaper referred to the sudden ban imposed by the Ministry of Information in the Saudi regime on the “Tod TV” platform affiliated with the Qatari “BN Sports” network, which owned the rights to broadcast the championship matches, as the Saudi fans were surprised by the ban on the platform just minutes before the start of the match. Editorial, despite the payment of the subscriptions, caused a state of angry questions.
The report indicated that this happened, despite the “fraternal bond” between host Qatar and its neighbor Saudi Arabia, which was evident in the stands of the World Cup, as fans arrived at the stadiums with the colors of the two flags, and the rulers of the two countries publicly showed evidence of support for each other.
On November 22, a video clip was monitored by the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as he watched the Saudi fans, whose team played its first match against its Argentine counterpart, in the third group matches of the 2022 World . Cup in Qatar.
The Emir of Qatar placed the Saudi flag on his shoulders, amid applause from the audience. For his part, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wore a scarf with the Qatari flag while attending the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador last Sunday.
And the paper adds that, because of the “Todd TV” ban, the Saudis did not watch when the crown prince, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, wearing a Qatari headscarf, on sat a seat. next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
It was unthinkable to see Bin Salman given such a prominent role in the World Cup just two years ago, when he led a regional boycott against Qatar and when a Saudi channel pirated billions of dollars worth of sports content on beIN Sports has. After that, relations improved to the point that the Saudi regime is considering buying a stake in BN, and it has already signed a $130 million marketing deal with the Qatari company.
Block the Todd TV platform
In this context, the New York Times says: “beIN officials were shocked to find that their broadcast platform had been suspended by media regulators in Saudi Arabia.
BN has put pressure on FIFA, the Minister of Sports in the Saudi regime, and even the United States and the British government to find a way to lift the ban on his services, but he did not yet know what the reason is why this measure was taken in a country where millions of people watch football matches.
And she adds: “The only official comment so far is a message from the Saudi regime’s Ministry of Information, informing subscribers trying to log into their accounts that the network has been suspended due to an unspecified violation of regulations Saudi subscribers complained on social media about their lack of access to the platform, while electronics companies that carry Todd TV on their devices sought answers from beIN subsidiary Todd.
The network was unable to answer subscribers’ queries, and it is not certain why the measure was taken, despite Mohammed bin Salman’s order a few days ago to all state institutions to support Qatar in its efforts to host the World Cup. to offer.
And Saudis discuss that the reason for the ban on “Todd TV” is his refusal to pay the value added tax to the Saudi authorities, which is estimated at 15%, but this reason remains unconfirmed.
It is noteworthy that the “Todd TV” application is an official digital broadcasting platform affiliated with the BN Sports channel network, which has been granted the rights to broadcast all the 2022 World Cup matches, as BN Sports has the rights to broadcast the World Cup. matches in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The “Todd” digital platform issued an official statement through its official Twitter account to all its subscribers in Saudi Arabia, apologizing in the statement for the temporary interruption of service due to controls beyond their scope.
Riyadh competes with BN Sports Qatar.
For its part, the US magazine “The Atlantic” said in July last year that the Saudi regime intends to launch a sports television network to break the dominance of BN Sports, the Qatari pay-TV giant that dominates the Middle East and North Africa . , in an attempt From Riyadh to obtain the rights to broadcast the Italian League matches, as the first agreement for the new Saudi network.
The American magazine indicated that the Saudi regime has pumped a lot of money into sports and tourism projects in recent years in an effort to diversify its economy and improve its reputation on the world stage, and has already attracted events such as the heavyweight title rematch between “Anthony Joshua” against “Andy Ruiz and the Dakar Rally”, In addition to international golf and tennis competitions.
The new network will be one of the ways to compete with the Qatari “BN Sports” network, which broadcasts most of the regional and international events exclusively and encrypted in exchange for a monthly or annual fee. Saudi Arabia seeks to enter this field to break the dominance of BN Sports.
BN Sports exclusively broadcasts the World Cup, the European and African Nations Cup, the European Champions League, Africa and Asia, as well as major tennis tournaments. However, hosting the World Cup will be the ultimate prize for the Saudi regime, especially after Qatar, a much smaller neighbour, won the honor of hosting the 2022 edition.
The Saudi regime has become increasingly active in the soccer industry over the past two years, and its latest foray into it is its support for the idea of FIFA president Gianni Infantino to hold the World Cup every two years, not every four.
Saudi money is also believed to have been behind two of Infantino’s ideas, namely the expansion of the Club World Cup and the World League of Nations, and while the latter has been suspended, the former has received the support of FIFA, although no date has been set. for that in the international agenda not yet.
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