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In challenge to Al Jazeera, Israel will show World Cup football for free in Arabic

Move is unlikely to be welcomed by Qatar-based beIN Sports network

    World Cup football draws vast audiences across the Arab world, including Egypt
    World Cup football draws vast audiences across the Arab world, including Egypt (Photo: Getty Images)

    Israel's new public broadcaster Kan has announced plans to show the 2018 FIFA World Cup for free on satellite in Arabic, in a challenge to Al Jazeera’s monopoly on the tournament.

    “The Israeli channel Kan [known Makan in Arabic] will broadcast the World Cup in Arabic for free in a historic step that confirms the status of the Arabic language and Israel's respect for it,” I24 News reported the post as saying.

    The move is unlikely to be welcomed by beIN Sports, the global network of sports channels belonging to the Qatari owner of Al Jazeera.

    The beIN channels own the pan-Arabic rights to the World Cup and will charge $45 (£32) per household to watch this summer’s tournament.

    But the Israeli broadcaster will show all the games in Arabic on a free-to-air channel, the Foreign Ministry said.

    It's unclear how much of the Middle East would be covered by the channel’s transmission range, but satellite dishes in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt can routinely pick up Israeli broadcasts.

    Israel has not competed in a World Cup since 1970 but Egypt qualified for this year’s tournament for the first time since 1990.

    Saudi Arabia has also qualified this year, having last played at a World Cup finals in Germany in 2006.

    Kan was founded in 2014 to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA).

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