beIN Media Group has announced that it will launch international legal proceedings against the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for breach of the sports broadcaster’s exclusive multi-million-dollar regional rights deal. The announcement was in response to AFC’s decision to revoke beIN’s exclusivity rights to air Asian football matches in MENA over what has been termed “systemic violations it committed against the Kingdom’s regulations” and the broadcaster’s inability to secure the necessary licenses to broadcast in Saudi Arabia. AFC has also announced that it will live stream matches featuring Saudi Arabian clubs in the AFC Asian Champions League for free on its own digital channels into the Kingdom.
beIN’s channels are no longer legitimately available in Saudi Arabia due to an ongoing political scuffle between Qatar and some of the other GCC countries.
beIN holds the exclusive rights to the AFC matches in the MENA region. The broadcaster announced that the Confederation’s decision to live-stream Saudi-related matches into the Kingdom geo-blocked on its Facebook Live and YouTube channels “undermines the central condition of its regional broadcast agreement with beIN, namely the grant of exclusive rights”.
The sports broadcaster has also stated that AFC’s material breach of its multi-million dollar broadcast agreement with beIN threatens the business model that sports rights holders all around the world rely on.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has announced that it welcomes AFC’s decision and will cover the matches for the Kingdom’s viewership with its own presenters and commentators.