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England team in fifth place in World Cup 2018 piracy table

England were the fifth most popular team with pirates during the group stages of the World Cup, new data has shown.

Cybersecurity firm Irdeto, which has been monitoring piracy activity through the tournament, says it managed to detect 523 illegal streams − across social media, dedicated pirate sites and illicit Kodi addons − for the Three Lions’ three group stage matches.

Related: Watch the World Cup in 4K HDR

It isn’t clear how many people watched those streams, but Irdeto told Trusted Reviews that 394,284 tuned in via social media alone.

All 64 World Cup games are being shown for free by the BBC and ITV, so it’s likely that the demand for pirate streams is coming from overseas − whether that’s England fans abroad, general football fans, or fans of England’s opponents, based in countries where the tournament isn’t free to watch.

If you’re worried that you can’t access BBC iPlayer where you live, a common workaround is to use a VPN – and our guide to the best VPNs is the obvious place to get started choosing the one that’s right for you.

“As one of the biggest sporting events around, the World Cup inevitably attracts a lot of global attention from pirates, as well as legitimate viewers,” said Rory O’Connor, Irdeto’s senior vice president of cybersecurity services.

“Content owners, rights holders and platform owners must continue to work together and enlist technology and proactive services to take down illegal streams in real-time as we progress further through the tournament.”

The company detected a total of 5088 illegal streams during the group stages. 3773 of these were found on social media channels including Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and Twitch, reaching an estimated 4,292,874 viewers.

The most illegally watched group stage match was the 1-1 draw between Brazil and Switzerland. It reached an estimated 613,715 people.

Below is a list of the top 10 most most popular teams with pirates during the group stages of the World Cup:

  1. Brazil (582 illegal streams detected)
  2. Morocco (561 illegal streams detected)
  3. Portugal (535 illegal streams detected)
  4. Belgium (526 illegal streams detected)
  5. England (523 illegal streams detected)
  6. Panama (428 illegal streams detected)
  7. Tunisia (427 illegal streams detected)
  8. Spain (424 illegal streams detected)
  9. France (423 illegal streams detected)
  10. Nigeria (406 illegal streams detected)

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