Al Jazeera, the Qatar-owned path-breaking but controversial television network, has won the right to broadcast the 2018 Russia and 2022 Qatar World Cups in the Middle East and North Africa, FIFA said in a statement.
Fifa said Al Jazeera had acquired the right to air the games via cable TV, satellite, terrestrial, mobile and broadband in 23 territories and countries in the first broadcast-rights deal to be struck since last month’s awarding of hosting of the tournaments to Russia and Qatar.
FIFA did not disclose what Al Jazeera paid for the broadcast rights.
Al Jazeera Sports in 2009 paid a reported US$1 billion for the rights for the sports content broadcast by Arab Radio and Television, which included the FIFA World Cup in 2010 in South Africa and the 2014 tournament to be played in Brazil.
“Al Jazeera Sport more than proved its commitment to delivering high-calibre coverage to football fans during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. FIFA’s aim is to make the World Cup as accessible to as many people around the world as possible – and for this we thankfully have an immensely strong partner in Al Jazeera Sport for the Middle East and North Africa,” the statement quoted FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke as saying..
Al Jazeera ran into problems during last summer’s South African World Cup when viewers across the Middle East and North Africa experienced interference during several games, including pixelated images, blank screens and commentaries in the wrong language. The disruptions were reportedly traced to Jordan where hackers were believed to have deliberately disrupted the broadcasts. Al Jazeera charged that the disruptions constituted "space terrorism".