By Andrew Warshaw
October 15 – UEFA has firmly denied reports that it has banned Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan, from televising qualifying games in the disputed occupied territories.
In a new row over TV rights, Kan is reported to have withdrawn its bid to broadcast European and World Cup qualifying fixtures claiming it was told it cannot show the matches to Jewish homes in the West Bank.
The organisation said it had pulled its €5 million offer to UEFA after being informed of the restrictions.
The Times of Israel newspaper reported that under the terms of its contract Kan “may only broadcast the matches inside the so-called Green Line, and not in what UEFA defined as the Palestinian territories.”
“We cannot agree not to broadcast to Judea and Samaria,” Kan said in a statement. “It is our duty to broadcast to all our citizens in Hebrew and Arabic.”
UEFA’s stance allegedly came at the behest of Qatar, whose sports channel beIN owns the broadcasting rights to air UEFA games in North Africa and the Middle East, which includes the occupied Palestinian territories.
UEFA sold the rights to show Euro 2020 and the European qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in the Middle East and North Africa to the Qatari-owned broadcaster which, according to unconfirmed reports, insisted on creating a tender for Israel that was separate from the Palestinian territories.
“UEFA said that it was the Qatari network that demanded that the games not be aired in West Bank Jewish settlements,” according to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.
Israel’s Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev wasted no time in slamming both the broadcaster and UEFA.
“Kan is funded by public money and must fight for the right to broadcast to Judea and Samaria and not give in to the futile demands of UEFA that delegitimise Israel and question our country’s sovereignty,” she said.
“Sports organisations cannot be allowed to decide where Israel’s borders will be. It’s about time that everybody understood that Judea and Samaria are an integral part of the State of Israel. UEFA has scored an own goal.
“Broadcasts must include the hundreds of thousands of our citizens living in Judea and Samaria. They are not second-class citizens UEFA should not bring politics into sport.”
UEFA responded by insisting no such restrictions exist.
“The broadcast rights for the European Qualifiers which have been sold to Kan include – as was the case in previous contracts already – the right to broadcast matches in the West Bank in both Hebrew and English,” a UEFA statement said.
“Media reports suggesting that UEFA has asked Kan not to broadcast matches in the West Bank are therefore inaccurate.”
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com