Qatar's beIN Sports asks Italian football league to move Super Cup game from Saudi
Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports has formally written to Italy’s football league asking it not to play a showpiece match in Saudi Arabia, accusing it of backing the pirating of its live coverage of events.
The staging of the Italian Super Cup in Jeddah next Wednesday has been embroiled in all sorts of trouble ever since it was announced, reported Al Jazeera.
BeIN holds the Middle East rights to most major sporting events around the globe, with viewers across the region paying them to watch the coverage live.
However, evidence gathered by beIN claims to show Saudi-backed channels pirating their live-action feeds and inserting ‘beoutQ’ branding over the Qatari logos, including for matches in Serie A where Cristiano Ronaldo plays for Juventus.
BeIN chief executive officer Yousef Al Obaidly wrote to Serie A counterpart Luigi De Siervo to demand they ‘join the international sporting community’s fight against piracy by beoutQ.’
“Of all the countries in the world that you could’ve chosen to host your game, you’ve chosen the one country that’s state-supporting the theft of your content on an industrial scale,” Al Obaidly wrote in the letter, according to Al Jazeera.
“If the game goes ahead, Serie A will have failed to uphold its duty to its member clubs and the wider sporting community ... whose intellectual property rights, and revenue streams, are threatened by beoutQ's actions,” he added.
Tickets for the game between Juventus and AC Milan at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium had been sold out in less than two days.
Al Obaidly disagreed with Serie A’s claims that the in Jeddah would promote ‘Made in Italy and its values.’
“The match, in fact, serves merely as a promotion of ‘Stolen by Saudi Arabia,’ he wrote, according to Gulf Times.
Talking about a letter he received from former Serie A boss, Marco Brunelli, last year, Al Obaidly said: “Although the letter suggests that Serie A has been at the forefront of the fight against piracy, the letter doesn’t once address our principal point — beoutQ is the most sophisticated pirate operation the world has ever seen, which is backed by Saudi Arabia.”
The final fixture, the first of three proposed matches in the desert kingdom in a €7m per game deal, has already met with opposition from human rights campaigners who accused Saudi Arabia of using sport to re-brand itself following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Politicians have also complained that women fans will not be allowed to attend the match unaccompanied, as is the custom in the kingdom.
In its letter, beIN pointed out that by going ahead with holding the Supercoppa in Jeddah it would effectively be shooting itself in the foot.
Organisers of the AFC Asian Cup tournament, which is currently underway, had instructed lawyers in Saudi Arabia to take action to stop the beoutQ broadcasts.