KEIR RADNEDGE in MOSCOW: FIFA has promised to take action against the unauthorised broadcasting of the World Cup Opening Match in the Arab world by the pirate channel BeoutQ.

A statement from the world football federation said: “FIFA is aware that a pirate channel named BeoutQ has illegally distributed the opening match of 2018 FIFA World Cup™ in the MENA region.

“FIFA takes infringements of its intellectual property very seriously and is exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights, including in relation to action against legitimate organisations that are seen to support such illegal activities. We refute that BeoutQ has received any rights from FIFA to broadcast any FIFA event.”

The channel was launched with the approval of the Saudi and United Arab Emirates-led coalition boycotting and blockading Qatar and Qatari interests in a continuing political row over the Gulf state’s independent international strategy.

A key thorn in the Saudi flesh has been the programming policies and content of Qatari station Aljazeera, hence the action to undermine its sports affiliate BeIN by ripping off football coverage – including of the World Cup – for which it owns regional rights.

BeoutQ, based in Saudi Arabia and broadcast via the Arabsat satellite operator, has been selling subscriptions to a dozen channels which had been paying premium rates for sports content from BeIN and other broadcasters.