Lebanese football fans cheer during the first match of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia, at a fan park in downtown Beirut, June 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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With the World Cup in faraway Brazil coming at a time of unprecedented sectarian violence and soaring tension in the Middle East, some Arab football fans have been reduced to watching matches in secret or even -- and this is where it gets complicated -- on a TV channel owned by Israel.Since the World Cup kicked off three weeks ago, Sunni extremists have seized territory in Iraq and Syria and declared an Islamic state. Qatar's media conglomerate owns broadcasting rights to the World Cup in the Middle East, charging viewers from $110 to $320 for a three-month subscription that includes the 64 World Cup matches -- a tournament that should have been a welcome escape for millions of football fans.Most fans can't afford to pay for the satellite broadcasts of the World Cup, which was previously shown around the region on state free-to-air channels. Watching a recent match in a cafe in downtown Cairo, 21-year-old student Mohammed Mostafa said his family was boycotting Al-Jazeera and instead tunes in to an Israeli channel that has been broadcasting the World Cup for free, with commentary in Hebrew -- a foreign language to most Arabs.
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