(Reuters) - Several soccer governing bodies and rights holders issued a joint statement on Wednesday to collectively condemn what they called the theft of their intellectual property by channel beoutQ, which carried pirated broadcasts of global sports events to which Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports held the rights.
World soccer ruling body FIFA, continental bodies Europe’s UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and major European soccer leagues such as the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A have called on authorities in Saudi Arabia (KSA) to take action.
"Since May 2018, we have collectively been working with an international legal counsel to monitor and compile evidence against beoutQ, whose broadcasts are regularly and on an industrial scale made available on an illegal basis," read a statement here on UEFA's website.
“Following thorough analysis by technical experts of how beoutQ operates from a technical perspective, we’re satisfied that beoutQ is operating specifically to target customers in KSA and is utilising the facilities of at least one KSA-based entity.”
The signatories to the statement called on Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information and the government to “take swift and decisive action against beoutQ.”
The Saudi government media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
BeoutQ emerged in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched a political and economic boycott of Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies.
The channel is widely available in Saudi Arabia but Riyadh has previously said it is not based there and that Saudi authorities are committed to fighting piracy.
Last month, a French court ruled that pirated sports content belonging to beIN was accessible via a Saudi-based satellite operator, but said it had not found evidence of “clear and illegal disruption”.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Ken Ferris and Mike Collett-White