FIFA says Saudi law firms refusing to act against pirate football broadcaster beoutQ

FIFA says Saudi law firms refusing to act against pirate football broadcaster beoutQ
FIFA, UEFA, the AFC and European football leagues has called on the Saudi government to act on the pirate broadcaster.
3 min read
31 July, 2019
FIFA, UEFA and other football bodies have condemned beoutQ [Getty]

Saudi Arabia's beoutQ has been slammed by football’s leading governing bodies and domestic leagues for its continued illegal streaming of European and international football, with the alliance again calling on Riyadh to take action against the "pirate broadcaster".

FIFA, the AFC, UEFA, Germany's Bundesliga, Spain's LaLiga, the English Premier League and Italian Serie A issued a joint statement Wednesday regarding the activities of beoutQ in Saudi Arabia.

"We, the rights holders of various football competitions, collectively condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing theft of our intellectual property by the pirate broadcaster known as 'beoutQ' and call on the authorities in Saudi Arabia (KSA) to support us in ending the widespread and flagrant breaches of our intellectual property rights taking place in the country," the group said in a statement.

BeoutQ emerged following a major diplomatic dispute between Qatar and a number of neighbouring states, after the Saudi-led coalition’s surprise blockade on Doha in June 2017.

Saudi Arabia and its allies, looking to undermine, blocked the Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports, which provided football fans from across the Arab world access to English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and other important games.

After BeIN was blocked, a mysterious pirate broadcaster emerged in Saudi Arabia, illegally streaming matches provided by the Qatari provider.

Since May 2018, FIFA, UEFA, the AFC and major football leagues said they have been working with an international legal counsel to monitor and compile evidence against beoutQ of its illegal broadcasting of games on an industrial scale.

They concluded that beoutQ is specifically targeting customers in Saudi Arabia and is "utilising the facilities of at least one KSA-based entity".

Over the past 15 months, the football alliance said it had spoken to nine law firms in Saudi Arabia which refused to act on their behalf against beoutQ, the statement said. 

"As copyright holders we have reached the conclusion, regrettably, that it is now not possible to retain legal counsel in KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] which is willing or able to act on our behalf in filing a copyright complaint against beoutQ," the alliance said in a statement.

"We feel we have now exhausted all reasonable options for pursuing a formal copyright claim in KSA and see no alternative but to pursue beoutQ and a solution to this very serious problem of piracy by other means."

It did not mention what action it might take yet, but stated that initial pledges by the Saudi government to act against the pirate broadcaster have come to nothing.

"Given the scale of beoutQ's piracy in KSA and that the piracy continues unabated, we request that the Ministry and the Saudi Government take swift and decisive action against beoutQ," it added.

"We are committed, collectively and individually, to working with all relevant authorities to combat the beoutQ piracy."