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AFC to take action against Saudi channel for pirate content

The Asian Football Confederation is contemplating legal action against Saudi TV channel beoutQ for illegal broadcasting of the Asian Cup

Bengaluru, Janaury 19: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is contemplating to take legal action against Saudi TV channel beoutQ for illegal broadcasting of the ongoing AFC Asian Cup in the UAE.

In a statement, the AFC said its Asian Cup, which kicked off in Abu Dhabi on January 5, had been appearing illegally on beoutQ.

"The AFC has already instructed 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 statement said.

AFC did not provide further detail on the parties involved in the case or damages being sought.

The exclusive TV rights in the Middle East to broadcast the AFC Asian Cup 2019 which goes on till February 1 belongs to the Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sport channel, which is headed by Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain's owner Nasser Al Khelaifi.

BeInSport this week published a dossier of what it called "industrial scale piracy of global sports and entertainment content".

Saudi authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The World Trade Organisation said last month it would investigate Qatari allegations of intellectual property breaches by Saudi Arabia, including the piracy of beIN content, despite Riyadh's objections on national security grounds.

Earlier, the game's global governig body had said that it would pursue legal action against beoutQ after the illegal broadcast of last year's FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, but details of the case have not yet been made public.

Premier League also to take action

Meanwhile, England's Premier League has also appointed legal counsel to take action against beoutQ channel.

The channel has been accused by tennis ruling bodies and other sports organisations of illegally airing content, whose rights are with beIN Sport.

BeIn Sports has the rights to broadcast the Premier League and other sports competitions in the Middle East and North Africa.

"The League has already appointed legal counsel in Saudi Arabia to begin the process of bringing action against the parties involved in this piracy," the Premier League said.

BeoutQ emerged in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar, accusing the tiny Gulf state of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies.

Qatar is slated to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

BeoutQ is widely available in Saudi Arabia. But Riyadh says it is not based there and that the authorities are committed to fighting piracy, including announcing the confiscation of 12,000 pirating devices last June.

It is unclear who owns or operates the channel.

(With Agency inputs)

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Story first published: Saturday, January 19, 2019, 16:54 [IST]
Other articles published on Jan 19, 2019
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