17th May 2019
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) wishes to correct certain inaccurate stories in the media regarding its pan-regional broadcast rights agreement with beIN Sports which covers the MENA region, including Saudi Arabia. In particular, several media reports have suggested that the media rights for AFC competitions currently held by beIN Sports have been cancelled in Saudi Arabia. This is not the case. beIN Sports remains a valued commercial partner of the AFC.
The AFC has been working with its partners and other stakeholders to manage the effects of recent rulings of the regulatory authorities in Saudi Arabia which have cancelled the licence of beIN Sports to operate television services in Saudi Arabia.
The AFC has a statutory mandate and mission to ensure that football and its competitions are promoted throughout Asia. To this end, the AFC has engaged in consultations to mitigate the effects of the present lack of lawfully available coverage of its matches in Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, the AFC has decided as a limited and proportionate step to stream geo-targeted coverage of Saudi Arabian team matches on the AFC’s own digital and social media services. This will ensure that football fans in Saudi Arabia are able to watch coverage of their teams on a service that is currently lawfully available, whilst the issues between the Saudi Arabian authorities and beIN Sports remain unresolved.
Separately, the AFC has begun a series of processes for the sale of the next cycle of AFC media rights (2021-2024) in the MENA countries. This follows the AFC and beIN Sports being unable to agree terms for a renewal of the current pan-regional agreement beyond the current term.
Finally, the AFC wishes to make it clear that it is committed to continuing with its efforts to fight against sports rights piracy in the MENA region.