FIFA has said it is contemplating legal action against pirate channel BeoutQ, which has been illegally broadcasting the 2018 World Cup in the Middle East.
In a statement on Friday, the world football governing body reminded BeoutQ viewers that the pirate channel has not obtained the rights to show the matches, adding that the company is infringing on its copyright.
“FIFA is aware that a pirate channel named BeoutQ has illegally distributed the opening matches of 2018 FIFA World Cup in the MENA region,” the statement on its website said.
“FIFA takes infringements of its intellectual property very seriously and is exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights, including in relation to action against legitimate organisations that are seen to support such illegal activities,” it continued.
“We refute that BeoutQ has received any rights from FIFA to broadcast any FIFA event.”
The Qatari sports channel has put a ticker on its broadcasts showing the FIFA statement in an attempt to raise awareness among BeoutQ customers that they are watching a stolen version of the beIN signal.
However, screenshots on Twitter show BeoutQ putting its own information ticker over the beIN one in an attempt to cover up the FIFA statement.
— M.Hashem (@MHashem21287227) June 15, 2018
In April, beIN’s managing director told the New York Times that BeoutQ is run by a team of professional engineers.
“[It] takes industrial scale knowledge and ability and multimillion-dollar funding,” Tom Keaveny told the newspaper. “This isn’t someone in their bedroom.”
BeIN’s antipiracy team traced the signal to space on the Arabsat satellite, the New York Times reported.
The satellite is owned by the Arab Satellite Communications Organization, a major satellite operator in the Arab world, headquartered in Riyadh.
BeIN has demanded Arabsat remove the pirate channels, the New York Times wrote, adding that Arabsat refused, saying that “the customer who bought the satellite space denied being involved in BeoutQ”.
The set top boxes BeoutQ uses are being sold online and in physical stores around the Middle East.
Oman, where beIN has the rights to broadcast the football matches, has banned the sales of BeoutQ hardware since May, a Gulf Times report said.
BeIN Media Group holds the exclusive rights to broadcast European and international championship tournaments to the Middle East and North Africa region.
The exact sum beIN pays for exclusively broadcasting the football matches has not been made public, but even conservative estimates value the deal in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
In late May, beIN called on FIFA to undertake legal steps to stop BeoutQ.
On June 5, 2017, the four Arab countries severed diplomatic and trade ties with Doha, and imposed a land, air and sea blockade against it.
The move prompted broadcast carriers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to block beIN broadcasts in their countries.
Several weeks later, the signal was restored in the UAE, just before the start of the 2017-2018 football season.
However, two weeks ago beIN was again no longer accessible in the UAE.