Egypt is one of the countries aligned with Saudi Arabia which as broken off diplomatic and commercial relations with Qatar. January 30th saw an Egyptian court order Nasser Al Khelaifi, CEO of the Qatari beIN Media Group, to pay a fine of 400 million Egyptian pounds (€18.2m) on charges of the network’s “involvement in monopolistic practices and breach of Egypt’s competition protection law”.
Egypt is passionate about football, and the case centred on investigations by Egyptian prosecutors which found that beIN Sports, the Qatari television network which held the exclusive TV broadcasting rights of several African and European football championships, “forced” Egyptian subscribers to switch their satellite receivers from Egypt’s Nilesat to Qatari-owned Es’hail.
Key to the action was last season’s Africa Cup, held in Gabon, which switched from Nilesat to Es’Hail, and upsetting Egyptian sports fans.
The ruling was handed down by a Cairo Economic Tribunal in response to a lawsuit filed by the state Agency of Monopoly Combat and Competition Protection Agency last year. The verdict can be appealed.
Al Khelaifi did not attend the court. The court opened the case on January 22nd.
Investigations by Egyptian prosecutors found that beIN Sports, a Qatari television network which held the exclusive broadcasting rights of several African and European football championships, “forced” Egyptian subscribers to switch their satellite receivers from Egypt’s Nilesat to Qatari-owned Es’hail.
The anti-monopoly agency praised Tuesday’s ruling. “It advocates rule of the law against the harmful practices of beIN Sports against the Egyptian citizen, who loves football,” the agency’s chairwoman Mona Al Garf, said. “Our agency took the lead in shedding light on the company’s practices, a matter that prompted some international bodies to act against beIN Sports,” she claimed in a press statement.
Not helping matters was that in October, Swiss prosecutors announced criminal proceedings against Al Khelaifi, who is also the chairman of Paris Saint-Germain, for alleged bribery in connection to the award of World Cup broadcast rights to Qatar.