LONDON: A London retailer has been convicted for selling set top boxes which provided access to unauthorised broadcasts of its games on channels including Saudi Arabia-based pirate service beoutQ.

Ammar Al-Silawi was found guilty at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on two charges of copyright and two charges of fraud having been found to sell the illegal streaming devices from a shop on London’s Edgware Road.

The Premier League prosecuted the case, which is the first of its kind, following an investigation conducted in conjunction with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), with the assistance of the Metropolitan Police.

Al-Silawi, 39, has been ordered to pay legal costs to English football’s top flight and received the maximum 300 hours of unpaid community service.

The pirating of beIN broadcasting across the Middle East and North Africa has become a major headache for international football because it threatened to undermine the rights-based financial structure of sport. The World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and top European leagues have all been targeted.

Saudi Arabia’s justice officials have turned a blind eye to the beoutQ piracy because it is a feature of the political and economic blockade being applied against neighbouring Qatar – the home of beIN Sports.

Kevin Plumb, the English Premier League’s director of legal services, said: “The law is very clear that the sale of ISDs is illegal and it is an issue taken very seriously by both the police and the courts.

“We will continue to investigate and pursue all suppliers of illegal streaming services, regardless of the size or scale of their operation, to protect the intellectual property that enables the Premier League to be so competitive and compelling.

“Addressing the issues created by the unprecedented BeoutQ situation remains a key priority of the Premier League and we will work tirelessly to support BeIN Sports, as well as all other broadcasters and fans who acquire our content legitimately.”

Most recently, the Premier League and several other major soccer bodies, including FIFA, UEFA and LaLiga, once again called on Riyadh-based satellite operator Arabsat to stop its distribution of BeoutQ after commissioning industry body MarkMonitor to carry out an investigative report into the pirate service.

The report confirmed ‘without question’ that BeoutQ’s pirate broadcasts were being transmitted by Arabsat, despite the fact the company has long denied its involvement in the operation.