Leading football organisations say a Saudi-backed satellite company is "without question" behind pirated match broadcasts that steals content from Qatar's beIN Sports, intensifying a sports dispute linked to the Gulf diplomatic standoff.
The conclusion was reached in a joint statement by FIFA, UEFA, the English, German and Spanish leagues, and the Asian Football Confederation after they commissioned a report into the operations of the beoutQ channels, which have been accused by beIN Sports of illegally pirating its broadcasts of football matches and other sports.
The football organisations say "the report confirms without question that beoutQ's pirate broadcasts have been transmitted using satellite infrastructure owned and operated by Arabsat."
The latest public criticism of Saudi Arabia-backed satellite broadcaster Arabsat follows a long struggle by the football rights holders to stop beoutQ bootlegging games.
BeoutQ emerged following a major diplomatic dispute between Qatar and a number of neighbouring states, after the Saudi-led coalition’s surprise blockade on Doha in June 2017.
After beIN was blocked by Saudi Arabia and its allies, a mysterious pirate broadcaster emerged in Saudi Arabia, illegally streaming matches provided by the Qatari provider.
The Doha-based broadcaster launched a compensation claim worth $1 billion against the Saudi piracy channel, while Qatar filed an action at the World Trade Organisation.
Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup has been a cause of bitter envy among Gulf rivals, with many suspecting the Saudi-blockade was in part designed to disrupt preparations for the prestigious global tournament.
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