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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Saudi Arabia welcomes Fifa action against pirated sports channel

BeoutQ channel is broadcasting World Cup matches despite 'relentless efforts by the KSA Ministry of Commerce and Investment'

A football fan watches the World Cup group game between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at a cafe in Jeddah. Naser Al Wasmi / The National
A football fan watches the World Cup group game between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at a cafe in Jeddah. Naser Al Wasmi / The National

Saudi Arabia on Thursday welcomed a move by soccer's governing body Fifa to take legal action against television channel beoutQ for illegally broadcasting the 2018 World Cup, saying it would support the kingdom's efforts to combat piracy.

Fifa said on Wednesday that it had engaged counsel to take legal action in Saudi Arabia against beoutQ and was working alongside other sports rights owners that have also been affected to protect its interest.

Saudi Arabia's media ministry said the Fifa decision would "supplement the relentless efforts by the KSA Ministry of Commerce and Investment in combating beoutQ's activities".

"These efforts and others reinforce the Government of Saudi Arabia's devotion to protecting intellectual property (IP) rights within KSA," it said in a statement.

BeoutQ is widely available in the kingdom, but Riyadh says it is not based there and that the authorities are combating the channel's activities.

BeoutQ could not be reached for comment. It is unclear who owns or operates the channel.

Qatar-based beIN Sports holds the rights to broadcast the 2018 World Cup in the Middle East and North Africa. It is blocked in Saudi Arabia under a trade and diplomatic boycott imposed on Qatar a year ago.

Fifa last month warned that it was exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights over beoutQ's airing of the opening games of the soccer tournament taking place in Russia.