All balls were properly drawn. Bayern Munich was drawn to FC Barcelona with ex-striker Robert Lewandowski, while Borussia Dortmund will meet Manchester City in the group stage of the Champions League. And the only Israeli representative, Maccabi Haifa, joined the prominently occupied Group H with Paris St. Germain, Juventus Turin and Benfica Lisbon. Except for “beIN Sports”.
The Israeli champions were missing from the Arabic-language Twitter accounts of the Doha-based Qatari TV station. There the group consisted of only three teams. Only in an overview with all groups was the logo of the Israeli champion shown in the appropriate place. The tweet without mentioning Haifa has since been deleted.
Also on the website of “beIN Sports” for Africa and the Middle East, Haifa was not mentioned in the article about the draw. However, the club was listed on the company’s English-language branches.
A spokesman for the broadcaster said at the request of the German Press Agency that it was an “accidental error” in a graphic. The broadcaster has “no political agenda whatsoever,” he said. Israeli teams would be broadcast on all of the broadcaster’s platforms and channels.
Qatar and Israel do not maintain diplomatic relations. At the same time, Qatar maintains good contacts with the Islamist Hamas, which rules in the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Israelis are only allowed to travel to Qatar if they have a second citizenship. For the World Cup, which begins at the end of November, an agreement was only recently reached that allows Israeli fans to come to Qatar.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Jair Lapid called this a “diplomatic success that makes the fans happy”. Athletes from Israel were also recently allowed to compete in Qatar. The fact that Haifa is not included in “beIN Sports” seems like a step backwards in relations.
The managing director of the influential sports broadcaster, which, among other things, has the broadcasting rights for the Champions League in the Arab world, is Nasser Al-Khelaifi, President of Paris St. Germain. The two clashes between Haifa and PSG in the group stage should therefore already have a certain explosiveness.
The 14-time Israeli champions qualified for the group stage after beating Red Star Belgrade 2-2 in the second leg of the play-offs. Haifa won the first leg 3-2.