UEFA bans Israel from broadcasting games to illegal settlements

UEFA bans Israel from broadcasting games to illegal settlements

UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) has banned Israel’s public broadcaster from airing its games to illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation, Kan, won the rights to broadcast preliminary World Cup and European Championship games after it bid $5.8 million for the privilege last year. However, the UEFA contract states that Kan “may only broadcast the matches inside the so-called Green Line, and not in what UEFA defined as the Palestinian territories,” the Times of Israel reported. As a result of this disagreement, the contract remains unsigned.

UEFA’s stance allegedly came at the behest of Qatar, whose sports channel beIN owns the broadcasting rights to air UEFA games in North Africa and the Middle East, which includes the occupied Palestinian territories. “UEFA said that it was the Qatari network that demanded that the games not be aired in West Bank Jewish settlements,” according to Haaretz.

Israel’s Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev was incensed at the revelation, commenting: “Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank] are not at all negotiable. They are part of the State of Israel. Therefore, broadcasting rights must also include the hundreds of thousands of our citizens who live there – they are not second-class citizens.”

The settlement of Israeli citizens beyond the Green Line is a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention, while the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights imposes an obligation on businesses “to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights.”

RCIR has welcomed the terms of the contract offered to Kan: “The Qatari network is to be congratulated for insisting that UEFA adheres to the UN Guiding Principles,” remarked RCIR Coordinator Dr Geoff Lee. “The terms offered to Kan are a small victory for legality and decency. Israel’s illegal settlers should not benefit from the broadcast of UEFA matches while the state kills, tortures and terrorises in order to maintain its racist occupation.”

However, Dr Lee added: “If the Occupied Territories can be excluded from match broadcasts, why will UEFA and FIFA not call the Israel Football Association to account in the larger matter of its sponsoring of football clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements? These clubs play their matches on stolen land that is off limits to its Palestinian owners. There should be no place for land theft and apartheid in sport.”

This post is partly based on the MEMO report at: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181008-uefa-bans-israel-from-broadcasting-games-to-illegal-settlements/#

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