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World Cup sabotage linked to Jordan
by Paul Kennedy, October 1st, 2010 7:48PM

TAGS:  soccer business, television, world cup


[TELEVISION WATCH] How powerful is the World Cup? Months after the 2010 World Cup ended in South Africa, diplomatic tensions between Jordan and Qatar are rising. The dispute? The popular Arab television network Al-Jazeera's claim that widespread technical problems with its World Cup broadcasts were caused by a sophisticated jamming operation traced back to Jordan.

Al-Jazeera held World Cup television rights throughout the Middle East, but viewers complained throughout the tournament of problems with the broadcasts -- blank screens and pixelated images. In Dubai, fans rioted at a movie theater when a game was broadcast in the wrong language.

Fees to watch the games weren't cheap ---  $80-$160 for residential subscriptions and $800-$1,400 for restaurants and other viewing establishments.

Qatar, which owns Al-Jazeera, and Jordan have for many years been political rivals for influence within the Middle East.

Al-Jazeera and Jordan reached an impasse over World Cup rights. The Jordanians claimed Al-Jazeera wanted $8 million to show the games on Jordanian television and $50,000 per screen for the matches to be shown in neighborhoods and was trying to get back at Jordan by "punishing the Jordanian people, who have the love of sports in their blood." Al-Jazeera, in turn, accused Jordan's King Abdullah -- a big soccer fan -- of demanding that Al-Jazeera screen the games for free.

At first, Qatar blamed Israel for the problems, but the Guardian reported that problems with the broadcasts at eight matches were caused by the jamming of satellite signals emanating from northwest of the Jordanian capital of Amman.

Al-Jazeera says the World Cup jamming was an act of sabotage intended to "deprive millions of fans … from enjoying this global event."

The Jordanian government says an investigation will prove the allegations are false.

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