The Saudi Football Federation has done well to file a complaint with FIFA over the exploitation of Qatar-owned BeIN Sports channel’s exclusive rights to the 2018 World Cup to broadcast politicized messages aimed at harming Saudi Arabia.
What happened in the channel’s studio while analyzing the football match between Saudi Arabia and Russia after it ended is a disgusting chapter of a media scene that is falling and declining every day. This was not the first time that this channel, which is supposed to be a sports channel, broadcasts political messages. Sometimes, it has even broadcast inciting messages against countries that the Qatari regime politically disagrees with.
We were hoping this channel will dissociate itself from the behavior of the mother channel Al-Jazeera which has mastered propagating strife and working on dividing Arab unity. This is in addition to the channel’s exposed work at supporting terrorism and paving way for terrorists to voice their opinions and regularly send their messages through it.
It’s clear that the mastermind who manages Al-Jazeera is not that different from that managing BeIN. Therefore, the task is one and the messages are similar. This is why everyone is calling for a serious and unified stance against the channel and the behavior of its supervisors and employees.
Mixing sports with politics is completely rejected. The exploitative approach of this channel which monopolizes the broadcast of World Cup matches to millions of Arabs in the Middle East is immoral and is rather hostile as it directly contradicts with the great purpose of organizing the World Cup...Mohammed Al-Hammadi
Mixing sports with politics is completely rejected. The exploitative approach of this channel which monopolizes the broadcast of World Cup matches to millions of Arabs in the Middle East is immoral and is rather hostile as it directly contradicts with the great purpose of organizing the World Cup and which is uniting all people, bringing them closer to each other, forgetting political disputes and regional interests and focusing on fun, co-existence and love.
What we see on beIN Sports does not reflect any of this as even the channel’s selection of some Arab analysts and commentators shows that the channel has an agenda that’s distant from sports and close to inciting strife and stirring problems. Therefore, the initiative launched by top sports figures in the Gulf and the Arab world on Monday under the slogan “sports without politics” is very important and it’s a civilized step that reflects Arab athletes’ concern to keep sports distant from politics.
What pushed them to launch this initiative is BeIN Sports’ insistence to involve politics in sports. We’ve noticed in the past few months how the channel’s reporters and hosts intentionally involved athletes and the audiences in political disputes which they have nothing to do with. This has called for a firm response taking a real position to end this unprofessional, unethical and irresponsible behavior.
The Qatari channel’s continuous instigation and inciting of hatred violate the media’s professional ethics and FIFA’s rules which stipulate that it is a must to dissociate sports from politics. Therefore, the Saudi move is welcomed and it must be supported to end the channel’s unsporting behavior.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mohammed Al-Hammadi is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Ittihad newspaper and Executive Director of editing and publishing at the Abu Dhabi Media Company. He founded and was Editor-in-Chief of the Arabic edition of National Geographic magazine, and has held numerous positions in journalism since joining Al Ittihad in 1994. Al-Hammadi has been a columnist for more than 15 years, including writing a daily column for seven years and producing a weekly political column in Al Ittihad since 2001. He has also worked as a parliamentary editor for seven years, covering the proceedings of the Federal National Council in the United Arab Emirates. In addition to being an active participant on social networks, Al-Hammadi has an interest in new media and is currently working on a project to ease the transition from traditional to digital and smart media. Al-Hammadi has received numerous awards and is a member of a number of organizations and federations. He features regularly in broadcast media as a regional political commentator and has authored several books including Time of Ordeal (2008), The UAE Democracy (2009) and The Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood (2016). Twitter: @MEalhammadi.