Mysterious Saudi-based BeoutQ channel has been showing matches that only Qatar’s beIN has a license to show.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) is the latest international football body to accuse Saudi sports channel beoutQ of illegally streaming football matches.
The Saudi channel has been broadcasting matches from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations even though it is not licenced to broadcast the tournament.
It is unclear who exactly owns and operates BeoutQ, but it emerged in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched a political and economic boycott of Qatar. The channel is widely available in Saudi Arabia and subscriptions are publicly available there but Riyadh says it is not based there. BeoutQ is available to watch through Saudi-owned satellite provider Arabsat.
Qatar’s beIN is demanding $1bn for “mass piracy” of its sports programmes, for which they blame Saudi Arabsat and beoutQ.
For its part, the CAF said that it will join other sports organisation that are affected by beoutQ’s illegal brodcasting -including FIFA and UEFA- in taking legal actions against both against Arabsat and beoutQ.
In a statement it said: “BeoutQ is broadcast throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and is also available across the world, which is causing severe damage to the rights of CAF and all rights granted by contracts to its official broadcast partners, and first and foremost beIN Sports.
"Television broadcasts of all 36 matches in the group phase were fraudulently diverted and made available on beoutQ, with the support of the satellite provider Arabsat.
“Arabsat has refused to obey the requests for taking down the illegal transmissions.
FIFA has also said that beoutQ was using Arabsat frequencies to broadcast footage from the Women’s World Cup.
In a statement, it said: “FIFA continues to explore each of its legal options as a means to address beoutQ’s unauthorised broadcasts. In this regard, FIFA is working with a number of other rights holders whose rights have also been infringed by beoutQ”.
Last year, UEFA also raised similar concerns and announced that they would not tolerate illegal broadcasting. The body claimed that the pirate channel illegally distributed the 2017/18 of Champions League and Europa League.
“Uefa strongly condemns all unauthorised broadcasting and illegal streaming activity," UEFA said in a statement last year.