The organisers of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup football have vowed to take legal action against “pirate” company beoutQ for illegally broadcasting its matches in an ongoing piracy dispute in the Gulf region.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) condemned “the pirate entity named ‘beoutQ’ that continues to illegally broadcast the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019”.
The confederation had “already instructed [its] counsel to take legal action in Saudi Arabia”, where the 10-channel system is allegedly broadcasting matches through Riyadh-based Arabsat satellite operator, it said.
Qatar-based BeIN, which has previously accused beoutQ of stealing its signal and broadcasting as its own, is the exclusive broadcaster of the monthlong tournament.
“The AFC will continue to support its commercial and broadcast partners by protecting their contractual rights,” the Asian football body said.
AFC’s statement came as a growing number of sports federations and global bodies in recent months have condemned beoutQ and called for the closure of the piracy operations.
FIFA, football’s world governing body, and Europe’s UEFA are also weighing action against beoutQ for illegally distributing football matches in the Middle East.
Last month, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said it would investigate Qatar’s allegations of intellectual property breaches by Saudi Arabia, including the piracy of beIN content.
Riyadh has objected to the WTO move on national security grounds. It has also denied claims that beoutQ is based in the kingdom and distanced itself from its operation.
BeoutQ emerged in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar and accused the Gulf state of “supporting terrorism”, which Doha denies.
The crisis has already overshadowed the AFC Asian Cup after Saoud al-Mohannadi, vice president of the Qatar Football Association and the AFC, was first denied entry into the UAE on January 3, but admitted a day later.
There were also reports of some Qatar-based journalists not being allowed to enter the UAE to cover the championship after allegedly waiting at the Dubai airport for 13 hours before returning to Doha.
Qatar is placed in Group E alongside regional rival Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Lebanon. They beat Lebanon 2-0 in their opening match on Wednesday.
The highly-anticipated match between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is scheduled at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium on January 17.