The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and global sports broadcasting network BeIN Sports have ended the two-month-long dispute which came to a head with CAF’s unilateral termination of their contract in September.
Today (November 9), CAF announced that it is recommitting to its partnership with BeIN, “after the parties reached agreement on the matters that were in dispute.”
CAF informed BeIN in early September that it was canceling the deal between the two – struck in 2017, worth in the region of $415 million, and covering over 40 countries (some of them in Africa) – over unpaid rights fees worth close to $90 million. BeIN then responded with a communication to CAF saying it was exploring legal action.
Now, however, CAF has announced a resolution of the situation, although no detailed public statement is being made by BeIN and GlobalData understands the broadcaster is still unhappy with CAF’s original actions.
CAF has said the dispute has come to an end following “discussions which resulted in the re-establishment of a mutually beneficial partnership between the parties.”
Patrice Motsepe, CAF’s president as of March 2021, has said: "CAF is deeply committed to promoting and advancing the interest of all its sponsors and partners and building mutually beneficial relationships with them and with all our stakeholders …
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“Significant financial resources are also required for investments in youth academies, football clubs, national teams, CAF member associations, stadiums, and other football infrastructure and facilities. CAF is delighted about its partnership with BeIN and is committed to growing and expanding this relationship for the benefit of both parties.”
A BeIN spokesperson, meanwhile, simply told GlobalData the broadcaster is “pleased all matters have been positively resolved.”
Despite CAF saying it would terminate the deal, it never cut BeIN’s TV feed to tournaments it held rights to – meaning the broadcaster was able to, for example, cover the inaugural edition of the Africa Football League. Indeed, it has been reported that talks over a resolution between the two parties actually started soon after the early September written exchanges.
It has been reported that BeIN has now paid close to the full sum CAF feels it was owed – around $88 million – and that BeIN’s chair Nasser Al-Khelaifi was personally involved in talks to resolve the dispute. In terms of concessions CAF has made, meanwhile, GlobalData has been told there were several of these too.
The main issues behind the original cancelation of the contract, GlobalData was told, related to BeIN having repeatedly over the past two years requested an adjustment in terms of the fees owed to CAF, naming several matters which during that time have affected the value of the rights.
BeIN has also been unhappy with what it sees as a serious failure by CAF to properly tackle digital piracy, and the illegal streaming of BeIN’s content, across Africa.
These various issues led to a situation where CAF had not received payment from BeIN since early last year.
As well as countries in the Middle East and North Africa, BeIN also holds CAF rights in markets such as Asia, France, and the US.
This incident marked the second time in four years that CAF attempted to unilaterally terminate a major TV rights deal, after doing so with the Lagardere Sports agency (now Sportfive) in November 2019. When that media rights deal was struck, it marked the largest in CAF’s history.
That led to CAF paying Lagardere $50 million in compensation (although the agency had initially pushed for $90 million).
The resolution of the CAF-BeIN dispute removes fears over TV coverage of CAF’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, set to take place early next year in Ivory Coast.