Saudi Arabia could be banned from competing in future football tournaments in a bid by the sport’s governing bodies to stamp out piracy.
In a joint statement FIFA, UEFA, the Premier League, the Bundesliga and Serie A, said they were giving up on a failed legal action against the rogue station, beoutQ.
Instead they would be pursuing the Saudi-based pirate TV channel "by other means".
Sources said this could involve barring Saudi Arabian teams from taking part in competitions "up to and including the World Cup in 2022", which takes place in Qatar.
It could also mean local games such as last week’s tie between Atherton Collieries, a non-league club near Wigan, and one of the top teams in Saudi Arabia, Al-Ittihad, might not go ahead.
Over the past 15 months the rights holders of seven football competitions and leagues have employed nine Saudi law firms to pursue beoutQ, but to no avail.
They say Riyadh is to blame for the pirating of beIN Sports content since August 2017 which has seen everything from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia to the Champions League, Premier League and Serie A to Wimbledon and Formula One being illegally transmitted.
A report has also claimed that Premier League clubs lose £1mn per match in lost sponsorship.
beoutQ is broadcast on the Arabsat satellite channel, of which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the biggest shareholder.
The piracy began after a Saudi-led diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar, where beIN is based, cut off the desert kingdom’s legitimate link to the world of sport.
The source said: "The ultimate footballing sanctions are direct actions against the Saudi Football Federation, which could mean sanctions against both the Saudi national team and Saudi clubs.
"Both are a long way off but if this piracy is still going on at the next World Cup it’s a very real prospect.
"This shows that if you have a rogue state that refuses to abide by international law, the legal recourse is completely meaningless. But there does exist the ultimate sanction for the football bodies to sanction the local Saudi federation."
Although the piracy started as a problem in the Middle East where beIN Sports owns exclusive rights to the major sporting events across the Mena region, it has since spread throughout Europe and America, affecting drama and entertainment as well as sport.
It led to the BBC and SKY urging the European Commission to make a complaint to Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the Premier League has also seen the value of its domestic rights fall, with broadcasters warning they will not spend as much if tougher measures to block piracy are not introduced.
In the joint statement , the rights holders said: "We feel we have now exhausted all reasonable options for pursuing a formal copyright claim in KSA and see no alternative but to pursue beoutQ and a solution to this very serious problem of piracy by other means.
"beoutQ’s infringement of our rights inevitably harms every aspect of the industry, from the rights holders to legitimate licencees, consumers and fans, participants (including players, clubs and national teams) and ultimately the sport itself."
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