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beIN to take legal action after CAF terminates $415 million contract

In a strongly-worded letter, beIN Media Group vowed to “take all necessary legal steps to challenge and overturn” the recent termination by CAF.

BeIN Media Group’s CEO has penned a strongly-worded letter vowing to take legal action after an abrupt termination of a major $415mn contract with the African football governing body, Doha News can confirm.

Yousef Al-Obaidly’s letter to executive committee members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) confirmed the Qatar-based media network “does not accept this termination and will take all necessary legal steps to challenge and overturn it”.

The move by CAF to terminate its $415 million broadcast contract has left the organisation without a principal broadcaster just four months before its premier men’s event, the African Cup of Nations.

Al-Obaidly’s letter, shared with Doha News by a trusted source, suggested the decision could potentially violate CAF’s own internal regulations, stating: “We have significant concerns that this major decision relating to CAF’s most valuable commercial contract may have been taken without the necessary scrutiny and approvals required.”

This is not the first time CAF has found itself embroiled in contractual controversies. In 2019, the governing body severed a 12-year, $1 billion deal with French media group Lagardere Sports.

Resolving that legal dispute set CAF back by $50 million in damages, raising questions about another potentially costly legal quagmire with beIN Media Group.

In his letter, Al-Obaidly also cited a pattern of unaddressed concerns and unmet attempts to find a resolution.

“For reasons we do not understand, our legitimate concerns have not been recognised so far and our positive efforts to resolve matters have been met with onerous and unacceptable preconditions.”

He contrasted this with beIN’s experiences with other major football rightsholders, which he described as markedly different.

The termination comes amid a complex backdrop that includes CAF’s inter-relationship with FIFA and the launch of a new men’s club competition seen as a rival to the African Champions League, for which beIN holds the rights.

Although FIFA distanced itself from the beIN termination, its President, Gianni Infantino had played a pivotal role in appointing Patrice Motsepe as CAF’s president in 2021. FIFA’s aides have been closely involved in initiating CAF’s new men’s club competition.

CAF’s decision to end its contract with beIN also followed a five-year working agreement between CAF and the Saudi Arabian football federation, focusing on both football development and commercial opportunities.

CAF, headquartered in Cairo, has not yet commented on the matter, which impacts more than 40 countries, including France and the United States.

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