06/22 09:30 CDT Serie A yet to sell TV rights after Qatar's beIN backed out
Serie A yet to sell TV rights after Qatar's beIN backed out
By ROB HARRIS
AP Global Soccer Writer
Serie A has been unable to sell its Middle East television rights, rejecting
the offers made after beIN Sports did not bid over concerns about the Italian
league's close relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Qatar-owned beIN was not part of the rights auction process to retain the
rights after Serie A signed deals to play three Italian Super Cups in Saudi
Arabia despite the protests about the kingdom's links to broadcast piracy
through the renegade beoutQ operation.
Serie A said it rejected the unidentified bids received for the 2021-24 for the
Middle East and North Africa.
"We will open new negotiations in the next weeks," Serie A told The Associated
Press on Tuesday. "We prefer not to comment on the details of the offers and
the reason of our refusal."
The lack of interest in taking up the rights by beIN denies Serie A potentially
significant revenue since it was previously paying $500 million for rights over
three seasons in 36 territories including the 24 countries in the MENA region,
amounting to more than half of the league's overseas revenue.
"We've been ostracized by beIN," Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo told the AP in
March, "and that makes it very complicated and difficult for us."
FIFA and other major soccer competitions have spent more than three years
trying to stop a Saudi-facilitated broadcasting operation from pirating
broadcasts from Qatar's beIN Sports. FIFA issued a statement in 2019 saying the
"piracy continues unabated" and requesting the "Saudi government take swift and
decisive action against beoutQ." The World Trade Organization last year found
the Saudi state blocked moves to shut down beoutQ.
The pirating of rights was a proxy of the wider Gulf dispute that had seen
Qatar boycotted economically and diplomatically by its neighbors since 2017
before the crisis eased in January with Doha signing a declaration with Saudi
Arabia as well as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
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