Two months after CAF canceled their 12-year, $415 million broadcast contract with beIN SPORTS, the two organizations have resolved their differences and recommitted to their partnership. This is welcome news for soccer fans in the USA looking forward to the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament to be played in Cote d’Ivoire starting on Jan. 13.

As reported in September, CAF accused beIN SPORTS of owing nearly $80 million in unpaid broadcast fees. The confederation cited contractual breaches as justification for the unilateral termination of the deal. beIN disputed this claim, stating COVID-19 scheduling changes warranted withholding some payments. After threatening legal action, constructive discussions have now enabled a resolution.

CAF President Dr. Patrice Motsepe expressed satisfaction at reestablishing mutually beneficial relations with beIN, a key sponsor and partner. He emphasized CAF’s commitment to good governance, ethics, and global best practices in its operations. “Investment in youth academies, clubs, infrastructure, and other aspects of African football development requires significant financial resources that partners like beIN can provide. CAF is delighted with its partnership with beIN and is committed to developing and expanding this relationship for the benefit of both parties,” concluded Dr. Motsepe.

Importance for upcoming tournaments

This restored partnership comes just in time for coverage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. This year’s edition of the tournament starts January 13th and runs through February 11th. The tournament will feature top national teams like Senegal, Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt, and Cameroon competing in Cote d’Ivoire. Soccer fans in the US can now expect continued broadcast access through beIN.

The deal also covers crucial club competitions like the CAF Champions League. With the group stage concluding on November 9th, the knockout phase begins on November 30th. Historic clubs like South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and Egypt’s Al Ahly will vie to be African champions. USA viewers can follow the action thanks to beIN SPORTS’ restored rights.

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This resolution marks an important stabilization period for CAF after years of disruptions to its media partnerships. In 2019, CAF terminated a $1 billion Lagardere deal which cost $50 million in legal damages. Caution regarding the beIN contract reflects lessons learned. With CAF’s new leadership emphasizing ethics and best practices, restoring cordial relations with key broadcast partners bodes well for African soccer’s growth and exposure worldwide.

beIN shows continued commitment to CAF and African soccer

In his statement, beIN CEO Yousef Al-Obaidly reaffirmed the company’s longstanding financial backing of African football. Dating back to 2009, beIN has invested heavily in rights fees and production costs to cover CAF tournaments. This enables wider exposure across its broadcast regions in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia-Pacific, France, and the USA. 

Currently, beIN SPORTS is broadcasting the African Football League. This is reminiscent of a super league involving teams from across Africa. Eventually, the competition will have a promotion and relegation system in three geographic areas. The second leg of the final in the precursor edition takes place this Sunday, Nov. 12. South African side Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco are the finalists. Wydad holds a 2-1 lead from the first leg.

Photo: Imago.