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Saturday, 10 April 2021

beIN Sports takes Turkey's Fenerbahce to court to halt "beFAIR" protests over coverage

Fenerbahce accuses beIN of manipulating video assistant referee (VAR) replays, fixing camera angles and showing one-sided highlights to undermine the team and favour its opponents

Reuters , Thursday 25 Feb 2021
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Broadcaster beIN Sports has taken legal action to stop Fenerbahce players wearing doctored versions of the company logo as part of the Turkish soccer club's protests against what it says is beIN's biased coverage of its matches.

Two beIN sources said the company launched the legal action on Wednesday at a Turkish intellectual property court to stop the club using the protest logo "beFAIR". One of the sources said further legal action was being prepared.

Fenerbahce accuses beIN of manipulating video assistant referee (VAR) replays, fixing camera angles and showing one-sided highlights to undermine the team and favour its opponents, charges which the Qatar-based broadcaster denies.

beIN has held the exclusive domestic and international rights to the Turkish top league since 2016, a contract worth around $400 million a season until the end of 2021/2022.

Fenerbahce, one of the three Istanbul giants alongside Galatasaray and Besiktas, lies third in Turkey's Superlig but has lost two of its last three matches.

The club said it would respond to news of the legal action later on Thursday.

At a home league game on Sunday players warming up wore shirts emblazoned with "beFAIR" branding in the broadcasters white and purple colours. Advertising displays pitchside showed the same logo.

beIN denies the club's allegations, insisting it cannot control replays or alter camera angles. "It would be financial suicide for us to target Fenerbahce, who have one of the two largest fan bases in Turkey," one beIN source told Reuters.

The source said beIN was not seeking damages with the legal action, but only that Fenerbahce stop using the doctored logo.

Fenerbahce chairman Ali Koc has threatened to boycott the broadcaster by calling on fans to cancel their subscriptions.

Koc said after a game in January that fans should post about the broadcaster's "hostile" attitude against Fenerbahce on social media.

"I've stood by them (beIN). I told them we were in the same ship. But if our problems are not solved... we will show them what Fenerbahce is," he told reporters.

Last month the club, saddled with debts of $700 million, signed Mesut Ozil after he fell out of favour at Arsenal. To help cover the cost of his move and his $3.5 million a year salary it appealed to fans for cash, changing the name of an existing fundraising campaign to 'MesutOL' (Be Happy).

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