European soccer body said to bar Israel from broadcasting games to settlements
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European soccer body said to bar Israel from broadcasting games to settlements

National broadcaster could lose rights to World Cup and Euro 2020 matches after rejecting UEFA demand to block transmission for Israelis in West Bank, East Jerusalem

Albania's Taulant Xhaka ,left, fights for the ball with Israel's Munas Dabbur during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Albania and Israel at Elbasan Arena, in Elbasan, southern Albania, September 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Albania's Taulant Xhaka ,left, fights for the ball with Israel's Munas Dabbur during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Albania and Israel at Elbasan Arena, in Elbasan, southern Albania, September 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

Israel’s national broadcaster is on the verge of losing the rights to broadcast World Cup and Euro 2020 soccer games due to an impasse over transmission to Israelis living in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem, according to a Sunday report.

The national broadcaster Kan reportedly bid €5 million ($5.8 million) for the rights to show Israel’s games in the early round of the two international soccer competitions, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. The bidding was conducted by a US company, CAA11.

The contract with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), however, states that Kan may only broadcast the matches inside the so-called Green Line, and not in what UEFA defined as “the Palestinian territories.” This condition would mean that Israeli citizens living in settlements or in East Jerusalem would be unable to watch the matches — a condition unacceptable to Kan, Yedioth reported.

Sources in Kan told Yedioth that a Qatari company bought the rights to broadcast the matches in the Middle East and north Africa, which includes “the Palestinian territories.”

Kan has reportedly been negotiating with the European soccer association for the best part of a year, but so far the two sides have not managed to reach an agreement.

Kan, which had planned on showing the matches with Hebrew commentary on Channel 11 and with Arabic commentary on channel 33, offered to only broadcast the matches using Israeli cable and satellite technology, and to ensure that they are not available to those who are not residents of Israel.

This was how Kan broadcast the last World Cup to all Israeli citizens and residents in both Hebrew and Arabic. However, the bidding then was conducted by a European company. So far CAA11 has refused to budge.

Kan stressed to the American company that it has an obligation to make the games available to all Israelis. “The broadcasting authority will only sign a contract that allows it to broadcast to all Israeli citizens whether in Hebrew or in Arabic, regardless of where they live,” Kan stressed to UEFA, according to the report.

If there is no progress between the two sides, Kan will not be able to broadcast the games, and they will only be available to those who subscribe to cable and satellite channels.

Kan offered no comment to the Yedioth report.

Israel is to play Scotland on Thursday and Albania on Sunday in qualifiers for the UEFA Cup. In September Israel lost to Albania in an away game as well as losing to Northern Ireland in a friendly away match.

Neither match currently appears on Kan’s broadcasting schedule.

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