Saudi disowns beoutQ but agrees to curb pirate channel
June 23 2018 11:39 PM
Cartoon Corner
Cartoon Corner

Reuters Riyadh

*UEFA threatens legal action against Riyadh, vows to protect beIN Sport's rights

After being cornered by international sport organisations, Saudi Arabia has agreed to prevent the activities of the pirate beoutQ channel in the kingdom.

Saud al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, called the piracy charges "baseless" and said the matter should be resolved by the sport’s international governing bodies.

A row over broadcasting of the World Cup in Saudi Arabia has escalated, with Riyadh denying an allegation by European soccer's governing body that a television channel it says is illegally showing matches is based in the country.

UEFA has threatened action over beoutQ's airing on Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat of the soccer tournament taking place in Russia, as well as the Champions and Europa Leagues.

The European soccer body alleges beoutQ is illegally using content from Qatari-based beIN network, which holds regional rights but is blocked in Saudi Arabia under a boycott of Qatar by Riyadh and Arab allies over Doha's alleged support of terrorism, which the Qatar denies.

Saudi authorities were working to prevent beoutQ's activities in Saudi Arabia, though the broadcasts remain widely available.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia have exchanged recriminations over the alleged piracy, but UEFA's threat has cranked up the tension after an earlier rebuke by global governing body FIFA.

"We will take the necessary steps to address the issue in order to enforce and protect the rights granted to beIN Sports, including through engaging with relevant satellite carriers in the region," UEFA said in its statement.

Saud al-Qahtani has called the piracy charges "baseless" and "unfounded", accusing Qatar of trying to divert attention from the dispute with its neighbours.

His comments were directed at Qatar rather than addressing FIFA's accusations, but he said the matter should be resolved by the sport’s international governing bodies.

Turki al-Sheikh, head of Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority and also a senior adviser to Prince Mohamed, said on Twitter this week that UEFA's president was trying to meet him, but he does not "like to meet men of many faces".

UEFA responded by tweeting that it was surprised at the comment "as the UEFA President has never heard of this person and he therefore would have no reason to meet him".

Formula One probes beoutQ broadcasts

Formula One is investigating alleged illegal broadcasts of its content in the Middle East and North Africa by a Saudi Arabian-linked television station already accused of pirating World Cup and European soccer.

A Formula One spokesman said content belonging to regional rights-holder, Qatar-based beIN Sports, had been transmitted by beoutQ.

“Formula One takes intellectual property infringement of this nature extremely seriously, we are looking into the issue and those that are involved and will take appropriate action,” Formula One said in a statement at the French Grand Prix.

World soccer body FIFA has also accused beoutQ of illegally broadcasting the games of the World Cup.



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