Saudi Arabia has denied the claims and the spat is seen as another front in a diplomatic dispute between the neighbors amid a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
International soccer governing bodies, which garner millions of dollars for selling the broadcasting rights to games, have also become involved.
FIFA, the international football association, published a statement in mid-June saying that it was “aware that a pirate channel named BeoutQ has illegally distributed the opening matches 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 organizations that are seen to support such illegal activities. We refute that BeoutQ has received any rights from FIFA to broadcast any FIFA event,” it said.
FIFA confirmed it was considering legal action against the TV station, which has reportedly shown no signs of stopping the broadcasting of World Cup games. The Gulf Times reported that when beIN Sports put a ticker-tape feed across the bottom of the screen informing BeoutQ viewers that they were watching stolen footage, the Saudi station “simply superimposed its own message over that.”
UEFA, the European football confederation, last week accused the pirate channel of illegally distributing European games as well.
“UEFA strongly condemns all unauthorized broadcasting and illegal streaming activity. We are aware that a pirate channel, named BeoutQ based in Saudi Arabia, has illegally distributed the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League throughout the 2017/18 season, including the UEFA Champions League final in Kiev on May 26," the body said in a widely-reported statement released last week.
"UEFA considers that illegal piracy of live football, particularly on the scale of that being carried out by BeoutQ, poses a significant threat to European football," the statement said. "For the avoidance of doubt, BeoutQ has received no rights whatsoever from UEFA to broadcast any UEFA event.”
NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, has also reportedly complained that it's Telemundo unit (which holds the Spanish language rights to the World Cup in the U.S.) has seen its broadcast of the tournament illegally distributed by BeoutQ.