FIFA slams Saudis for pirating Women's World Cup TV feeds from Qatar

FIFA slams Saudis for pirating Women's World Cup TV feeds from Qatar
Saudi-based BeoutQ has been broadcasting bootlegged football feeds from beIN Sports based in Qatar - on which Saudi Arabia has imposed an all-encompassing boycott.
2 min read
16 June, 2019
The 2019 Women's World Cup is being broadcasted illegally in Saudi Arabia [Getty]
FIFA has told Saudi-backed satellite broadcaster Arabsat to stop transmitting pirated feeds of Women's World Cup games from a Qatari network in an ongoing sports television rights dispute linked to the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

Bootlegged feeds from Doha-based beIN Sports of top soccer games have been broadcast by Saudi-based BeoutQ since 2017.

Now FIFA, which sells the exclusive rights to beIN, has called out Arabsat for distributing BeoutQ. Screengrabs from BeoutQ's coverage of England's victory over Scotland at the Women's World Cup last week show the beIN logo on the screen.

"FIFA is aware that unauthorized transmissions of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 are being made available across the MENA region, primarily Saudi Arabia, via the pirate broadcaster known as beoutQ," FIFA said in a statement to The Associated Press. "BeoutQ's unauthorized transmissions of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 are made available by way of Arabsat satellite frequencies.

"FIFA is therefore seeking the cooperation of Arabsat in addressing the misuse of FIFA's intellectual property."

Arabsat was founded in 1976 by members of the Arab league and the Saudis hold the biggest stake with 36.7%. There was no immediate response to a request for comment form Arabsat.

"FIFA continues to explore each of its legal options as a means to address beoutQ's unauthorized broadcasts," soccer's governing body said. "In this regard, FIFA is working with a number of other rights holders whose rights have also been infringed by beoutQ."

Saudi authorities declared beIN illegal in the kingdom, a proxy battle in the nation's wider economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar that was launched nearly two years ago. BeIN has pursued Arabsat through the French courts.

"Even if we are illegally denied access to justice in Saudi Arabia, we will use every means possible to hold beoutQ and Arabsat to account for their daily theft of rights-holders' intellectual property," beIN group chief executive Yousef Al-Obaidly said.

"But we are not fighting this battle alone - the weight of the international community is now firmly coming to bear on Saudi Arabia to end its safe haven for piracy, which is destroying not only the economic model of the global sports and entertainment industry, but the livelihoods of content creators all around the world."

In January, FIFA, UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation issued a joint statement with the English Premier League, German Bundesliga and Spanish league denouncing "persistent and illegal screening" of games where beIN owns the Middle East rights.

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