Lebanon had previously requested free World Cup streaming from the host nation.
Lebanese Caretaker Minister of Information Ziad Makary has dismissed as “inaccurate” reports over an alleged agreement between Qatar and Lebanon to provide free streaming services to Beirut for the World Cup.
The denial came in a statement from Makary’s office following his visit to the Gulf state this week, where he discussed with Qatari officials cooperation in the media sector during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
However, the Lebanese official expressed his hope in benefitting from Qatar’s developed media sector.
“The two sides discussed the possibility of media cooperation between Beirut and Doha during the State of Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup, and touched every positive spirit through the warm reception of Qatari officials,” read a statement from Makary’s office.
The Lebanese official was accompanied by Lebanon’s Minister of Tourism of the Lebanese Republic Walid Nassar on Monday. The ministers delivered a message by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun to Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The New Arab reported in June that Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati filed the request 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.
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.
No further details were disclosed regarding the Lebanese officials request, which came 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.
Leading Qatar-based sports broadcaster beIN Sports then 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.
Meanwhile, Nassar told the Qatar News Agency (QNA) that there are various ideas to enhance bilateral sports tourism especially during the World Cup, given that the Gulf state is the first Arab nation to host the event.
The Lebanese tourism minister noted that his ministry is organising tourism packages between Doha and Beirut. Nassar told QNA that his visit aimed at “creating sustainable tourism and upgrading the tourism system” in Lebanon.
He added that there has been a decline in the number of Qatari tourists visiting Lebanon in light of regional conditions, particularly in Beirut.
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.