The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on September 1 that it made the decision to terminate its contract with beIN Sports despite the original agreement running until 2028. The deal was signed by the two parties back in 2017 and it gave beIN Sports the broadcasting rights for CAF competitions like the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and the CAF Champions League in a number of regions, including North Africa and Asia. The deal was estimated to be worth $415 million.
CAF cited as reason for cancellation the nearly $100 million beIN Sports are owing them, adding that the last time they received a payment from their broadcasting partner was in February 2022 and only after threatening to suspend beIN Sports’ rights of broadcasting the knockout matches at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
BeIN Sports are reportedly refusing to pay CAF as they want to renegotiate and reduce the initial $415 million package. Their argument is that the total amount should be brought down since CAF cancelled the 2020 Women's Africa Cup of Nations and the 2021 U17 Nations Cup and postponed several other matches due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
CAF agreed to a reduction of only $2 million, saying that those tournament cancellations and delays were due to reasons outside of their control. As per reports, beIN Sports is seeking to sue CAF but both parties are open to negotiations.
How will this affect the fans?
First we should start by saying that beIN Sports held the broadcasting rights for CAF tournaments only in a subset of regions. For fans from countries that operate under different broadcasters (Sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa, Europe etc), this cancellation will have no effect on their viewing experience.
However, if you are located in one of the regions where beIN Sports was the official broadcaster, you may not be able to view CAF-organised matches in the near future. To be specific, beIN Sports held the broadcasting rights for the following regions: Middle East and North Africa (MENA), ASEAN, France and USA.
Depending on how quickly CAF agrees with a new broadcaster for these regions, the fans in there may not be able to watch the matches at the 2023/24 CAF Champions League, 2023/24 CAF Confederation Cup, and even the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
How to watch CAF matches without beIN Sports?
The issue is that beIN Sports held exclusive broadcasting rights on CAF-organised tournaments in the countries in question. This means that, for now, there is no alternative service to go to in order to be able to watch the 2023/24 CAF Champions League, for example, which is set to start on November 24.
One way that you may still be able to stream the match is through a legal bookmaker in their country, although it may require the fan to first place a bet on the match that they intend to watch. Otherwise, you could consider downloading a VPN and watch the matches through the broadcasters in other regions.
Also, there are rumours that CAF and beIN Sports have left the door open for negotiations and it is not excluded that the CAF Champions League, Africa Cup of Nations and the rest of the African tournaments will eventually be back on their platform.