No further details were disclosed regarding the Lebanese officials request, which comes as the country grapples with several crises.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati has requested Qatar’s help to enable its population to watch the World Cup, noting some are unable to access TV coverage of the matches, The New Arab reported on Tuesday.
According to the UK-based outlet, Mikati made the request on Monday following a meeting with Mohammed Al-Khanji, Local and Regional Media Expert at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), as well as Doha’s Ambassador to Beirut Ibrahim Al-Sahlawi.
Mikati also asked the Gulf state to help facilitate the entry of Lebanese football enthusiasts for the major sporting event.
Lebanon did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup, however the request came a day after the trophy made its stop in Beirut as part of a global tour.
“We were really impressed by the love that we saw during our visits to schools and academies, many Lebanese even have tickets to attend the World Cup,” said Al-Khanji, as quoted by The New Arab.
No further details were disclosed regarding the Lebanese officials request, which comes as the country grapples with several crises. Lebanon is currently living under its worst economic crisis that has worsened since 2019, with the currency losing 90% of its value to the US dollar.
If no agreement is made following Lebanon’s request, cash-strapped Lebanese citizens would be left with no option but to watch at public cafes or bars, or via illegal means.
In 2014, Lebanese state-run TV channel Tele Liban (TL) had illegally broadcasted Brazil’s World Cup matches.
In response, leading Qatar-based sports broadcaster beIN Sports filed a lawsuit against the channel. It later broadcasted the games in 2018 during the World Cup in Russia for free after getting broadcasting rights.
Lebanon’s worsening situation was exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak and the tragic Beirut port blast in 2020. At least 200 people were killed by the explosion, with families of victims demanding accountability two years on.
Despite billions of aid sent to the country in response to the tragedy, it has yet to financially recover. The Gulf state was the first country to offer direct support for the Lebanese in the aftermath of the explosion, pledging more than $70 million in donations.
Meanwhile, three quarters of Lebanon’s population have been pushed into poverty and are living under inflation as a result of the economic situation.
After months of stalemate, the first elections since 2019 occurred last month, electing a 128-member parliament, a dozen of which are independent, as Reuters had reported.
According to Al Jazeera, the Shia Hizbollah movement and its allies won 58 of the seats, dropping from 71 seats in the previous elections. A total of 65 seats are required to secure a majority.
The country is also facing a fuel shortage and an electricity crisis, where most of the population receives limited power access.
Lebanon’s state electricity company Electricité du Liban (EDL) has accumulated $40 billion of debt, roughly 43% of government debt, since 1992, according to Energy for Growth Hub.
In February, Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Al-Kaabi said that his country seeks to support Lebanon in its fuel crisis.
“Lebanon is a very dear country to our leadership and our heart as a nation and I think with the troubles that have happened we lost an opportunity. We had bid to go into Lebanon,” said Al-Kaabi, in response to Doha News, at a press conference at the time.