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FIFA Launches Legal Action Against BeoutQ, KSA Welcomes Step

FIFA Launches Legal Action Against BeoutQ, KSA Welcomes Step

Thursday, 12 July, 2018 - 14:45
A presenter holds the official match ball for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. REUTERS
Riyadh- Asharq Al Awsat
FIFA has confirmed that it is taking legal action in Saudi Arabia against BeoutQ, a pirate TV service operating in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that has been illegally distributing the ongoing World Cup.

In a statement on its website, FIFA said it has observed that "the pirate entity named ‘beoutQ’ continues to use illegally the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ broadcast signal.

"Accordingly, FIFA has engaged counsel to take legal action in Saudi Arabia and is working alongside other sports rights owners that have also been affected to protect its interest."

The Saudi Ministry of Media welcomed the announcement by FIFA, adding that doing so will supplement the relentless efforts by the KSA Ministry of Commerce and Investment in combatting beoutQ’s activities and beIN’s illegal broadcasting within the country.  

The ministry stressed that these efforts and others reinforce the Saudi government's devotion to protecting intellectual property (IP) rights within the Kingdom.

The ministry explained that beoutQ‘s pirate broadcasts have been available in KSA with its set-top boxes also available in, and its pirate broadcasts targeted at, other nations in the MENA region, including Qatar and Eastern Europe.  Nevertheless, irresponsible media reports have falsely and unfairly connected KSA with beoutQ’s piracy.

The Ministry of Media said it "understands that such false and unfair connections are the work of beIN Sports, a subsidiary of the Al Jazeera Media Network (Al Jazeera) that has maliciously orchestrated a media smear campaign against KSA. beIN Sports purports to be the exclusive licensee of FIFA and other content owners for KSA and other MENA region countries."

KSA has banned Al Jazeera because it is Qatar’s principal media arm for supporting terrorism and promoting instability in the region. Its network provides a media platform for terrorists to propagate their violent message. KSA was compelled to ban broadcasts by beIN Sports in KSA for the same reason and for beIN’s numerous legal violations in Saudi.

"The [Ministry of Media] further believes that beIN Sports engineered its media smear campaign against KSA to deflect attention away from scandals and threats that beIN Sports now faces," it explained.

For example, beIN Sports – along with its chairman and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, and FIFA former secretary general Jerome Valcke – is a subject of an ongoing criminal bribery, fraud, criminal mismanagement, and forgery investigation instigated by the Office of Attorney General in Switzerland.

The alleged criminal activity relates to FIFA’s award of media rights for certain countries for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.  Further, although beIN Sports claims to employ state-of-the-art anti-piracy technology, beoutQ’s ability to overcome such technology with ease provides motivation for beIN Sports to seek others to blame, rather than taking responsibility for its own technological shortcomings.

The ministry called on FIFA (and other rights holders) to distance themselves from beIN Sports and find alternative licensees for broadcasting sports in MENA, stressing that Al Jazeera, beIN Sports and their affiliates will never be permitted to broadcast again in KSA.

"KSA is governed by, observes and respects the rule of law," it stated.

"If FIFA has legitimate claims supported by reliable evidence, it can expect to receive justice at the hands of the independent courts of our nation consistent with KSA law."

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