Iceland's Hannes Por Halldorsson saves a penalty from Argentina's Lionel Messi on June 16th, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CARL RECINE)
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev criticized public broadcaster KAN on Sunday for reportedly signing a deal with UEFA, stopping it from broadcasting games in Israeli settlements.
On Sunday, Yediot Aharonot reported that UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, which controls the media rights to many international soccer competitions, told KAN it could not broadcast its games to settlers living in the West Bank. According to the report, while KAN purchased the rights to air the games, UEFA sold the rights for the Middle East and North Africa to a Qatari company, and those rights include the Palestinian territories.
“Sports organizations do not decide the borders of the State of Israel,” Regev said Sunday. “The Israeli public broadcaster financed by the public must fight for the realization of broadcasting rights in Judea and Samaria, and not surrender to the futile demands of the UEFA organization, which gives support to attempts to undermine Israeli sovereignty and calls for delegitimization against the State of Israel.”
Regev added that “Judea and Samaria 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.”
KAN declined to officially respond to the report. On Sunday afternoon, it tweeted that it “stands behind the fact that broadcasts of the Israeli team must be accessible to all citizens of Israel, in Hebrew and Arabic, regardless of where they live.”
Sources within the public broadcaster said it is working on a compromise that would ensure it can still air UEFA games in settlements. According to Yediot
, KAN told UEFA that it would only broadcast the games through the five Israeli TV providers, and lock any other access.
On Sunday, Yesh Atid MK Yoel Razbozov
- a former Olympian judoka
- called for an urgent hearing on the matter in the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee.
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“This demand harms many Israeli citizens, and no Israeli broadcaster should accept it,” he wrote. “We must find a way for all Israelis to be able to sit in front of the TV and watch and cheer on the Israeli team.”
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said Sunday that he sent a letter to KAN saying “that there is no way to give in to the racist demands of UEFA to not broadcast soccer games in Judea and Samaria. I will use all the means available to the government to ensure that the games of the Israel team will be aired for all citizens of Israel, in Hebrew and in Arabic.”
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