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African TV Broadcast Row: Caf Recommits to beIN Sports Deal After Cancellation

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has recommitted to its partnership with beIN Media Group just two months after cancelling its broadcast deal with the Qatari organisation.

In early September, Caf cancelled the contract as it was owed at least $88m (£71.75m) by beIN, which itself acknowledged “a number of issues” affecting the relationship.

Talks since have “resulted in the re-establishment of a mutually beneficial partnership between the parties”, Caf said in a statement.

“Caf is delighted about its partnership with beIN and is committed to growing and expanding this relationship,” added Caf’s South African president Patrice Motsepe.

With Caf stating that the parties have “reached agreement on the matters that were in dispute”, BBC Sport Africa understands that nearly all the funds that beIN owed African football’s ruling body have now been paid.

“This historic agreement came after talks between Motsepe and [beIN Media Group chairman] Nasser Al-Khelaifi,” a Caf source told BBC Sport Africa.

Having initially threatened legal action over Caf’s decision to terminate the beIN deal, the Qatari group said it had previously withheld the money it owed because of concerns over several aspects of its ongoing relationship with those running the African game.

These included questions over the value of its rights for the African Champions League, which beIN felt had been diminished by the arrival of the African Football League, and a reluctance to pay its original deal in full given the Covid-enforced cancellation of some events and postponement of others.

“BeIN is pleased all matters have been positively resolved,” a beIN spokesperson, without going into specific details, told BBC Sport Africa on Thursday.

BeIN’s payment will assist Caf in paying the second and final instalment of $25m, due next month, to Lagardere Sports, now known as Sport5, as compensation following the African body’s unilateral cancellation of the $1bn deal with the French media group in 2019.

The Cairo-based organisation has been short of funds in recent times given that the previous payment from beIN, its biggest broadcast partner, dated back to February 2022, and only came after Caf threatened to remove its rights to broadcast the final stages of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations taking place that month.

Despite sending beIN a letter dated 1 September announcing the termination of their deal, Caf never cut television feeds to the media group – which was thus able to continue broadcasting matches it had agreed the rights for, such as Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and African Champions League games.

With a source close to the matter saying the door was “open” for talks, discussions between the parties started shortly afterwards and led to a resolution that would appear to suit both Caf and beIN.

The deal’s ongoing continuation removes concerns in beIN’s region of North Africa and the Middle East (with the group also broadcasting African football in Asia, France and the United States) over television coverage of the 2023 Nations Cup, which kicks off in Ivory Coast in January.

Source : BBC