Rights and wrongs: AFC steps in to investigate row at World Cup qualifier

Night time cameraman

By Paul Nicholson

September 8 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has been forced to step in to protect the integrity and rights of its commercial partners following reported incidents concerning BeIN Sports having had their coverage of the Saudi Arabia vs Japan World Cup coverage disrupted.

The facts of the dispute are far from clear with differing stories coming out of the region, however the incidents were deemed serious enough for the AFC to issue a statement saying it had initiated investigations following “reports of breaches of regulations” at the matches.

With the backdrop of the Saudi and UAE blockade of Qatar, the AFC in the weeks preceding the match had emphasised the importance of their commercial rights contracts and the regulations that host nations have agreed to abide by in order to fulfil those competition commitments.

BeIN Sports believes their rights have been infringed in an explosive row that threatens to become more politically driven than football based.

While BeIN Sports claim that one of their reporters was excluded from covering the match, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation issued a statement saying that that no media were excluded from covering the match with Japan, including the BeIN Sports reporter.”

The AFC has Senior Vice President Praful Patel from India to conduct “a comprehensive review of the allegations of regulation breaches as a commitment to the AFC’s drive for ever-improved integrity throughout the sport in Asia.”

In a statement the AFC said Patel “has been asked by AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa to oversee issues in West Asia to avoid any potential conflict of interest and demonstrate model governance, said that the AFC will now gather all relevant reports.”

This will involve taking depositions from the match commissioners, the member associations, AFC staff and commercial partners and agents.

“It is vital to the reputation of the AFC that it continues to uphold the highest standard of integrity as laid out in the AFC’s Vision and Mission objectives. They state clearly that the AFC will ensure its competitions, matches and the conduct of its people conform to the highest ethical and sporting standards,” said Patel.

“Integrity stretches beyond the action on the field to also protecting the rights of our broadcast and commercial partners, and enforcing the AFC rules and regulations which govern matches played under its jurisdiction.

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