BeIN Sports resumes Italian Serie A output after Saudi dispute

DOHA: Fans of Serie A around the world were once again able to watch the resumed season after BeIN Sports restarted its coverage after a dispute with the league saw matches taken off the air, the broadcaster confirmed Friday.

Subscribers to the Qatar-owned network who tuned in to watch last Saturday’s match between Torino and Parma were greeted with blue screens and that continued for Sunday's more high-profile games featuring Atalanta and Inter Milan.

But the network tweeted ahead of Juventus’ clash with Lecce on Friday “we are delighted to announce the return of Serie A live and exclusive on our channels with immediate effect”.

The initial spat was over a long-standing dispute with Saudi Arabia, which it claims is behind a pirate system, named BeoutQ, that illicitly showed its output via satellite.

BeIN’s president Yousef Al-Obaidly had criticised both Serie A and the Spanish football authorities for their relationships with Saudi Arabia despite the allegedly state-sponsored pirating of one of their key broadcast partners.

The group holds the rights to Serie A until 2021 in 35 areas including France, Turkey, 24 Middle East and North African countries, Indonesia and the Philippines, and claims to generate over half of the league’s international revenues.

The World Trade Organisation endorsed several of BeIN’s allegations, saying in a recent report the Saudi authorities had done nothing to prevent, nor punish the piracy.

The rights dispute is also part of a broader conflict between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours, who cut diplomatic ties with Doha and imposed an economic embargo over claims the country was too close to Iran and radical Islamist groups. Qatar denies the charges.

Last week’s blank screens came as Serie A prepared to negotiate broadcast rights for upcoming seasons. – AFP

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