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Qatar's beIN Media Group urges FIFA action on Saudi 'piracy'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo taken on December 19, 2015, shows a microphone labeled with beIN sports TV logo prior to a sporting event at Jean Bouin stadium in Paris, France. (By AFP)

A Qatari sport and entertainment network has called on FIFA to take legal action against what it claims are pirate broadcasters in Saudi Arabia ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

The plea was made by Qatar’s beIN Media Group, a subsidiary satellite network of Al Jazeera, on Monday.

"We have requested FIFA to take direct legal action against Arabsat and the indications we have show that they are behind that," said Sophie Jordan, the general counsel of beIN. "We have asked FIFA to put direct pressure on the pirates.”

The Doha-based company claimed that the broadcast rights Qatar had secured for major sporting events in the region, including the 2018 World Cup that starts on June 14, were being undermined by pirate broadcasters operating out of its much larger neighbor.

BeIN also alleged that a Saudi bootlegging network known as beoutQ, using a signal from satellite provider Arabsat, had been illegally transmitting its broadcasts since last October.

Saudi Arabia is the largest shareholder of Riyadh-based Arabsat.

Meanwhile, beIN called on UEFA to file a lawsuit against beoutQ as the network had illegally broadcast last weekend's Champions League final.

BeIN cannot take legal action itself in Saudi Arabia as it says it cannot get any lawyer representation there since the start of a boycott last June.

Qatar has been boycotted by its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, in a highly fractious year-long diplomatic and economic dispute.

The dispute came in June 2017 when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, along with Egypt, announced a halt to diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in response to the alleged support of the country for terrorism, an allegation strongly denied by Doha.

The Saudi-led bloc later presented Qatar with a list of steep demands and gave it an ultimatum to comply with them or face consequences.

Doha, however, refused to meet the demands and stressed that it would not abandon its independent foreign policy.

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