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Lebanese government brokers World Cup rights deal

The Lebanese government has brokered a deal with cable-television provider Sama to show coverage of football’s 2014 Fifa World Cup in the country for free.

The Daily Star newspaper said that the country’s ministry of telecommunications had agreed to pay Sama $3m (€2.2m) for the rights, to compensate the provider for showing the games for free.

Sama had planned to charge viewers to watch coverage of the entire tournament after acquiring exclusive rights in the country.

Sama executive Hasan al-Zein added: “Watching the World Cup was offered as a gift to the Lebanese people.”

Information Minister Ramzi Joreige told the Voice of Lebanon radio station: “I have been keen on providing the Lebanese with their right to watch this championship, but we cannot be oblivious to Sama's exclusive rights.”

State-run television channel Tele Liban, which had been in talks with Sama about acquiring the rights and showing the games on free-to-air television, said that it would continue to show matches even though it does not have rights.

“I did not ask [permission],” Tele Liban chairman Talal Makdessi said. “I take full responsibility. If there is any [trouble] I don’t care. I will present my resignation.”