European Soccer Body to Israel: Don't Air Games in West Bank Settlements

Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation won the bidding process to broadcast World Cup preliminary games. But under pressure from a Qatari broadcasting company, UEFA is barring the airing of the games beyond the Green Line

File photo: Changing the net at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium in preparation for the European Championship's youth league, 2013.
AFP

European soccer association UEFA is demanding that the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation, which won the rights to broadcast the preliminary games of the World Cup and the European Championship, not air them in West Bank Jewish settlements, the daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.

Although the public broadcasting corporation, Kan, is part of the European Broadcasting Union, the Qatari sports giant beIN owns the broadcasting rights in North Africa and the Middle East, which therefore includes Israel.

UEFA said that it was the Qatari network that demanded that the games not be aired in West Bank Jewish settlements. 

“Israel's borders won’t be determined by sports organizations," Miri Regev, culture and sports minister, said in response. "The time has come for them to internalize the fact that Judea and Samaria are an integral part of the State of Israel,” she said Sunday.

Kan was already in negotiations for acquiring the rights to broadcast the games, but gave up the contract due to UEFA's demand. Until now these games were broadcast beyond the Green Line.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

Kan won the rights to broadcast the games already a year ago, but until now the contract was not signed because the parties couldn’t reach an agreement.

“Kan will only sign only a contract that will enable it to broadcast to all the citizens of Israel,” Kan representatives wrote to UEFA, adding that the broadcasts will be presented in both Hebrew and in Arabic, as was the case during the last World Cup.

Minister Regev also criticized Kan, adding that “the public broadcasting corporation is financed by a public budget and must fight for implementing broadcasting rights in Judea and Samaria as well, and not give in to the futile demands of UEFA, which is supporting those who are trying to question Israeli sovereignty and calling for delegitimization of the State of Israel.

“Judea and Samaria are not negotiable. They are part of the Israel, and therefore the broadcasting rights must also include the hundreds of thousands of our citizens who live there – they aren’t second-class citizens,” added Regev.