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Fifa, Uefa blast piracy network with alleged Saudi ties

Qatar and the Doha-based beIN Media Group have described beoutQ as a vast and sophisticated Saudi bootlegging network that has been transmitting stolen programmes.

The Fifa headquarters in Zurich. Picture: AFP.

GENEVA - Fifa, Uefa and several of the world's top football leagues on Tuesday condemned alleged piracy of television rights by the "beoutQ" network, which Qatar claims is backed by Saudi Arabia.

Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, and the Doha-based beIN Media Group have described beoutQ as a vast and sophisticated Saudi bootlegging network that has been transmitting stolen programmes via Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat.

Fifa, Uefa, the English Premier League, La Liga, the German Bundesliga and the Asian Football Confederation weighed in on Tuesday by blasting beoutQ's actions as "a clear and flagrant breach of our intellectual property rights".

"Collectively, we, as rights-holders in various football competitions, condemn the pirate entity beoutQ, which continues to abuse the operations of rights holders and legitimate broadcasters through its persistent and illegal screening of events for which it has made no effort to secure the rights," the powerful football bodies said in a joint statement.

Fifa and the Premier League have previously said they were preparing to take legal action in Saudi Arabia against the pirates, but Tuesday's statement makes no mention of the kingdom.

In October, beIN launched a compensation claim worth $1 billion against the Saudi piracy channel while Qatar filed an action at the World Trade Organisation.

Saudi Arabia has denied the claims and even said the piracy was operating out of Cuba.

The spat over beoutQ's actions comes amid a 19-month economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies, who accuse Doha of backing terrorism and seeking closer ties with rival Iran.

Qatar has refuted the claims.

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