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Mon 18 Jun 2018 03:50 PM

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Thousands sign petition blasting beIN Sports' World Cup coverage

The petition's website includes video clips of nine instances in which beIN commentators inserted politics into their coverage of the tournament.

Thousands sign petition blasting beIN Sports' World Cup coverage
Fedor Smolov of Russia controls the ball under pressure of Mohammed Alsahlawi and Abdullah Otayf of Saudi Arabia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium on June 14, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.

Nearly 60,000 people have signed a petition calling on FIFA to take action against Qatari-financed broadcaster beIN Sports for its “politicised” coverage of the World Cup in Russia.

The petition includes a pre-written message addressed to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, which says that fans “are saddened by beIN using its permission to telecast sports to transmit [a] political agenda” and to “aggrevate” the on-going diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The petition’s website – sports4everyone.org – includes video clips of nine separate instances in which beIN’s Arabic-language commentators made political comments.

The comments range from allegations that Saudi Arabia betrayed Morocco’s bid to host the World Cup like they “abandoned the Palestinian cause”, to questioning the Saudi Sport Authority chairman’s allegiance to the Saudi king and remarking that Saudi players and coaching staff may find themselves “imprisoned at the Ritz-Carlton” for performing poorly on the pitch during a 5-0 drubbing by Russia at the tournament’s opening game.

The petition calls on FIFA to “take immediate action” against beIN, which it accuses of violating World Cup broadcasting rights regulations by denying fans the opportunity “to watch our football team from political exploitation.”

As of Monday afternoon, over 59,000 people had signed the petition and sent the message.

Among those who signed the petition are a number of notable sports and media personalities, including former Egypt international Ahmed Hassan, the most capped male international footballer in history.

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