Every four years, Jean Bassil eagerly awaits the FIFA World Cup, but the failure of the Lebanese government this year to secure the broadcast of matches on state television prevented him from following the matches of his favorite sport.
In his small mobile shop north of Beirut, Bassil, 58, says angrily, “There is no football this year,” adding, “They deprived me of the only thing I enjoy in the midst of all the bad news around us.”
And since 2019, Lebanon is witnessing an economic collapse Chronic, classified by the World Bank among the worst in the world since 1850, the Lebanese pound lost more than 95 percent of its value against the dollar, and more than eighty percent of the population is below the poverty line.
The political paralysis has exacerbated the situation, and Lebanon has been witnessing a vacuum in the presidency for a month. The country is run by a caretaker government that can meet only in emergency cases, and it cannot approve any reform decisions that the international community sets as a condition for supporting Lebanon.
Last week, Information Minister Ziad Makari decided not to broadcast the matches on television Lebanon The official indicated that the government sessions did not convene to decide and sign a five-million-dollar contract with the Qatari “BN” company, which owns the exclusive right to broadcast the World Cup in the Middle East and North Africa.
Not many people can subscribe directly to the beIN provider or even with satellite channel subscription providers, so many resort to cafes and restaurants to follow some matches, while others watch them on electronic piracy sites via their mobile phones or computers.
“I can’t follow them on my phone, I only see with one eye,” says Basil, who is now satisfied with waiting for a summary of a long day of matches via news bulletins. He adds, “We asked God a lot to rid us of them (the political class), but he does not listen to us.” “.
No matches, no government.
In the Dekwaneh area, east of Beirut, Samer Idris (18 years old) found in a cafe adorned with Brazilian flags his favorite destination to watch the matches, because he was unable to watch them from home due to the slow internet on the one hand and the continuous power outages on the other hand.
Waving the Brazilian flag, he says, “We cannot watch from home because Lebanon TV does not broadcast the matches, and they promised us (the authorities) to broadcast them, but unfortunately they did not implement them,” at a time when the Lebanese, according to him, need “entertainment” after three years of economic collapse.
Samer pays 250,000 Lebanese pounds (six dollars) to watch the matches in a cafe, which he finds better than others, since other institutions ask for twice the amount, which he cannot secure.
He points out that his relatives shared among themselves the cost of subscribing to a satellite channel provider, to watch the matches from home. Around another table, Graciela Dia (26 years old) sits with her friends, wearing a yellow Brazil shirt, and says simply, “Lebanon TV does not broadcast matches, neither government nor money.”
Like Samer and Grazilla, Zain Nasreddin watches the matches from a café in his neighborhood in south Beirut. “I can’t afford to pay $125 to subscribe to satellite TV providers, so I watch matches from the café for 150,000 pounds ($3.75),” he says. “This is what I can handle,” he added.
The sidewalks around the cafes are also teeming with fans of international clubs, in streets completely darkened by the constant power outages.
Charbel Ghossoub and his sister preferred to watch the matches quietly from home, so they shared between them the cost of subscription, at a value of ninety dollars, with one of the satellite channel providers.
He says, “We waited until the last moment, hoping that Lebanon TV would broadcast the matches, and when we lost hope, we decided to subscribe” to the provider, and added: “The government’s inaction deprived the Lebanese even of the joy of watching the World Cup.”
In a tweet she posted on Twitter and attached a picture of the head of the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese MP, Gebran Bassil, and his son, who accompanies him to attend the World Cup matches in Qatar, Natalin wrote: “Bassil and his son enjoy the World Cup, and the Lebanese are deprived of watching .. You do not have an ounce of conscience, you insolent, you corrupt, you loser.”
In turn, the Lebanese political analyst Joseph Abu Fadel commented, in a tweet he posted on Twitter and attached it to a picture of Basil in the stands, saying, “Do not criticize them..Let them accumulate error upon error against the oppressed people of Lebanon with their arrogance and lack of loyalty. Let him follow the Qatar World Cup closely, while Lebanon is drowning in darkness.” As a result of his creations with cut off electricity, and the slogan of Arta, they did not leave us .. Let them make more and more mistakes .. The people will not forget their actions, they left .. And with hardship comes ease.
The Lebanese actor, Naim Halawi, mocked the current situation and commented in a tweet mocking the power of the internet speed, saying: “The most matches I attended in the World Cup are downloading – Player 1 … and an Arab update.”