Abu Dhabi: A telecast rights issue means UAE soccer fans will not be able to watch the national team defend its Gulf Cup title on their local channels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as they used to do since the inception of the Gulf Cup in 1970.

The Al Jazeera Sports channel has bought the live telecast rights for the 19th Gulf Cup, following an agreement with the Gulf Cup organising committee.

Al Jazeera has asked Dubai Sports Channel (DSC) and Abu Dhabi Sports Channel (ADSC) for $5 million (Dh18.35 million) each to share the telecast rights.

"We told Al Jazeera that we can pay $3.5 million for each of our two channels [DSC and ADSC] for a total of $7 million, but they refused and insisted on being paid $5 million for each channel," Rashid Amiri, DSC manager told Gulf News yesterday.

Amiri claimed the 19th Gulf Cup organising committee (an Omani panel) turned down DSC's offer although it was the highest offer and more than Al Jazeera's bid.

"The head of the organising committee congratulated me that DSC won because we offered the highest bid [$23.5 million]. He said we will be the only channel to telecast the 19th Gulf Cup,

"I do not know what happened after that. Al Jazeera was announced winners although its bid was $20 million. When we questioned the organising committee, they claimed Al Jazeera's bid was better as it offered Omani TV the cameras and electronic instruments to be used in the telecast of the Gulf Cup.

"In addition Al Jazeera agreed to train Omani TV staff in their studios in Doha although it was not included in the conditions book," said Amiri.

Amiri expressed surprise that the organising committee was silent on the issue of Al Jazeera selling the telecast rights to other channels for more than the agreed price.

"It was agreed that the channel which won the rights will sell them to government channels [like DSC and ADSC] for $3 million and for $3.5 million to private channels. But Al Jazeera is asking for $5 million.

Al Jazeera has so far sold the rights to the Al Dawri wa Al Kass, a Qatari sports channel, and Omani sports channel 2. The Yemeni TV and the Saudi Sports Channel are in negotiations.