FIFA, the international governing body of world soccer, has denied claims that Israel will be offering free Arabic-language coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to the Jewish state’s Arabic-speaking neighbors.
Israel’s foreign ministry announced last week that the Israel Broadcasting Corporation will broadcast World Cup games via satellite in Arabic for free, thereby breaking a Qatari monopoly on World Cup coverage in Arabic that has proved unaffordable for many in the Middle East.
“FIFA would like to clarify that… the Israel Broadcasting Corporation (through its Arabic language channel ‘Makan’) is not authorized to broadcast any 2018 FIFA World Cup content (including any match coverage) outside of Israel. beINSPORT is the exclusive Media Rights Licensee for the Middle East and Northern Africa region,” said FIFA in a statement on Thursday.
Although one Egyptian television commentator described the purported Israeli move as a welcome “slap in the face for Qatar,” underlining the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the two Arab countries, others were less impressed.
Ahmed Mussa, an Egyptian television anchor, warned viewers of the danger that Israel could transmit messages to the Arab world through its broadcasts.
“There’s no difference – Israel and Qatar are both enemies for me,” said Mussa.