BeIN Sports sent a reminder to all of its reporters around the world to maintain a neutral political stance about the escalation in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
The Qatar-based broadcaster made the move after controversial remarks from one of its commentators before Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.
As players took the knee to raise awareness of the fight against discrimination at the Emirates Stadium, match commentator Issam Chaouali appeared to outline his support for the Palestinian state after militants had attacked Israel and took a large number of hostages.
In his 20-second introduction to the game, which went out to Arabic-speaking nations, including Palestine, he said: “They’ve talked about strength and it was an illusion. They’ve talked about advanced technology and it was an illusion. And they’ve talked about unbeaten army and it was an illusion.
“They’ve talked about the Bar-Lev border (1973 fortifications between Egypt and Israel) and it was an illusion. They’ve talked about a border that can’t be crossed. Did you not understand? Did we not understand? They are just a balloon of illusion.”
BeIN has acknowledged that the comments were not appropriate and the reporter has been reminded of his responsibility to adhere to the company’s policy on neutrality.
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Chaouali and his reporting and presenting colleagues have been told that they are obliged to refrain from making political comments and to only report on sport, regardless of their personal opinions.
“As a leading global media group, we condemn any form of conflict or violence, while we champion and support people, causes and interests of every background, language and cultural heritage across the 40+ hugely diverse countries we operate in worldwide. Our corporate policies require apolitical neutrality and broadcast coverage that focuses on sport – which is demanded of all our staff,” a beIN Media Group spokesperson told The Athletic.
Before the match, Chaouali was also asked to remove a Palestinian badge by one of the broadcaster’s producers.
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Conversations have taken place between beIN Sports and the Premier League regarding the matter and a source close to the broadcaster, who will remain anonymous to protect relationships, said beIN is confident there has not been a breach of its broadcast agreement. The Premier League did not comment.
BeIN has the rights to show Premier League matches in 24 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, as well as Turkey, until the end of the 2024-25 season and the broadcaster has agreed a deal in principle to extend that for a further three years until 2028.
The Qatar-based company also broadcasts the Premier League in a further 15 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, and employs more than 3,000 people worldwide.
(Top photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)