Algeria : the soccer scandal

Antoine Boyet, traduit par Maxence Salendre
19 Octobre 2013

The Burkina Faso-Algeria 2014 World Cup qualifier game was broadcasted by the Algerian State TV channel (ENTV) without the broadcasting rights unleashing the wrath of broadcasting rights owner Al-Jazeera and triggering a scandal in Algeria.

Credit Photo --- Icon Sport |
Credit Photo --- Icon Sport |
Between a challenged arbitrage and a polemical broadcast, the Burkina Faso-Algeria game (3-2) organised last Saturday 12 October in Ouagadougou continues fuelling the scandal. While globalisation also applies to internationally broadcast sporting events, grotesque situations are multiplied at the expenses of the audience. No doubt ENTV will be a landmark in television history. The national state TV simply hacked the images from the Burkina Faso-Algeria 2014 World Cup qualifier game. A theft they publicly recognised.

Al-Jazeera sport channel’s presenters were not long in comparing this illegal broadcast to a “theft” and to an “offence” as Algerian website Algérie-Focus explains. This illegal broadcast was severely punished by the presenters at Al-Jazeera Sport who quickly drafted a small sign on which one could read “this game is illegally broadcasted by the Algerian national state TV which did not obtain any legal authorisation to do so”. A rather handcrafted method for an original matter which illustrates the acrimonious relationships between Al-Jazeera and the Algerian government since the closure of the only press bureau of the Qatari channel in the country in 2004.

Screen shot of Al-Jazeera Sport - " The match is broadcasted by the Algerian national television in a illegal way without it obtained no authorization "
Screen shot of Al-Jazeera Sport - " The match is broadcasted by the Algerian national television in a illegal way without it obtained no authorization "
It looks like ENTV decided to bypass buying the rights as this would not have permitted them to broadcast the game on time. In an article published in El Watan on October 14, 2013, Fayçal Métaoui is extremely critical about the management of a TV channel “left to the elements (…) whose budget is more concealed than a state secret”. For him, “ENTV is allowed to cover governmental activities but it is inacceptable and incomprehensible that the channel ignores societal debates, controversies, polemics and scandals”.

In a press release available on its website, Al-Jazeera announced that they will sue the Algerian channel for “violating its broadcasting rights” which were expensively bought from Sportfive. Al-Jazeera also contacted the highest authorities within the African Football Confederation (AFC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to defend its rights.

For their defence, the directors of the Algerian channel accuse SportFive, the European and African leader in marketing and audio-visual sport rights management and owner of the broadcasting rights from the African Football Confederation. SportFive would have sold the rights to Al-Jazeera Sports without real open negotiations and without holding into account the “inviolable and legitimate right” of nations concerning their territoriality. However, this right is only applicable when a country hosts a game. The game between Burkina Faso and Algeria being played in Ouagadougou, this right should not be taken into account. Toufik Khelladi, CEO of ENTV declared in an interview to El Watan that he assumed “this decision and its consequences” considering that “the game of the Algerian national team is a major event. Each and every Algerian citizen wherever he is on the globe has the right to watch this type of events on TV without having to pay for a private channel”. Is this right ensured when the broadcasting rights are not considered though?

Unfortunately for its citizens, no legislation exists in Algeria, Tunisia or Egypt concerning the public broadcast of finals or other major sporting events such as the World Football Cup or the Olympics as is the case in European countries. In France, all games played by the French team inscribed within the FIFA calendar are protected by law and must be publicly broadcasted. In this lack of legislation, the Algerian audience is the only loser.

Lire cet article en français