Football's international governing body Fifa said on Wednesday it is taking legal action against pirate broadcaster beoutQ, which continues to broadcast illegally from the World Cup in Russia as part of a major regional diplomatic and economic spat.
The move came after organisers of the next World Cup in Qatar urged firm action on the issue.
"FIFA has engaged 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," football's ruling body said in a statement.
"FIFA urges the authorities of Saudi Arabia and of the different countries where these illegal activities have been observed to support us in the fight against piracy."
Qatar-based beIN Media Group has the Middle East and North Africa rights to broadcast from the current tournament in Russia but as part of the diplomatic and trade bans placed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates beIN broadcasts are no longer
allowed in Saudi Arabia.
BeoutQ has been streaming games from Russia in Saudi Arabia, using beIN's signal and that of other World Cup rights holders.
Not only FIFA but also UEFA and beIN have called the practice illegal.
Qatar 2022 organising committee deputy secretary-general Nasser al-Khater said that firm action was needed on an issue which highlights how regional politics are hitting sport.
"Everybody should take a stand, all broadcasters, even if they have not been affected, should take a stand. All federations should take a stand," al- Khater told international media in Moscow.
"Any infringement on any broadcaster's rights that they paid a lot of money for ... We should not forget that, for all federations, TV is bread and butter. I think there should be a very unified and firm stand on this."
According to a report on the insidefootball portal, beoutQ launched after the blockade began in 2017, saying it was a Colombian and Cuban venture, but it is reportedly linked to Saudi companies.
BeoutQ's channels are broadcast using satellite frequencies on Arabsat, an intergovernmental satellite operator headquartered in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
It is not known whether FIFA president Gianni Infantino talked about the issue with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman al-Saud when the two sat together at the opening match on June 14 between Russia and
There had been speculation whether the ruling body was weighing its options around a 25-billion-dollar offer for a revamped Club World Cup and a global Nations League. The investors have not been revealed but are said to be from Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Qatar has made great strides in recent years, not only in media but also in sport, with the World Cup being the highlight of efforts that include hosting the 2006 Asian Games and landing world championships in sports including athletics and swimming.
Just how seriously Saudi Arabia is taking the broadcast issue is also seen in another dispute around beoutQ broadcasting illegally from Wimbledon and other tennis events for which beIN holds the rights.
In a statement on the Wimbledon website last week, tennis bodies called for the "immediate closure of the illegal Saudi Arabian-based piracy operation, 'beoutQ'," and spoke of "industrial-scale illegal piracy".
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