Cairo: An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered Nasser Al Khelaifi, CEO of the Qatari beIN Media Group, to pay a fine of 400 million Egyptian pounds (Dh83.3 million) on charges of the network’s involvement in monopolistic practices and breach of Egypt’s competition protection law.
The ruling was issued by the Cairo Economic Tribunal in response to a lawsuit filed by the state Agency of Monopoly Combat and Competition Protection Agency last year. The verdict can be appealed.
Al Khelaifi did not attend the verdict. The court had started hearing the case on January 22.
Investigations by Egyptian prosecutors found that beIN Sports, a Qatari television network having the exclusive broadcasting rights of several African and European football championships, forced subscribers in Egypt to switch their receiver devices from the Egyptian satellite Nilesat to the Qatari satellite Sohail.
Egypt said there was no technical necessity for the switch, which posed potential harm to the state-owned NileSat including robbing it of clients.
The anti-monopoly agency praised Tuesday’s ruling. “It advocates rule of the law against the harmful practices of beIN Sports against the Egyptian citizen, who loves football,” the agency’s chairwoman Mona Al Garf, said.
“Our agency took the lead in shedding light on the company’s practices, a matter that prompted some international bodies to act against beIN Sports,” she added in a press statement.
In October, Swiss prosecutors announced criminal proceedings against Al Khelaifi, who is also the chairman of Paris Saint-Germain, for suspected bribery in connection to the award of World Cup broadcast rights.
The Egyptian case comes against a backdrop of long-standing strains between Cairo and Doha.
Last June, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties and transportation links with Qatar over its support for terrorist groups.
Qatar is a staunch backer of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.