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Wimbledon piracy warning sparks bizarre war of words with Saudi Arabia

Wimbledon has found itself embroiled in a bizarre war of words with Saudi Arabia, after speaking out against pirate outfit beoutQ.

A press release issued by the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the ATP World Tour, ATP Media, the Women’s Tennis Association, the United States Tennis Association, the French Tennis Federation, Tennis Australia, and the International Tennis Federation on the official Wimbledon website last week called for “the immediate closure” of beoutQ.

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“Over the past 12 months beoutQ has been brazenly stealing the broadcast feeds of international tennis tournaments and distributing them illegally on a satellite provider called Arabsat,” the joint-statement reads.

“The premium sports content is then viewable on illegal beoutQ boxsets and online, in many cases for free across [the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region]. This mass-theft of tennis TV rights has prompted the world tennis organisations to come together to condemn and call for an immediate end to the illegal exploitation of its intellectual property.”

However, Saudi Arabia hasn’t reacted well to the allegation that beoutQ is based in the Kingdom.

“Wimbledon’s press release baselessly claims that beoutQ is based in Saudi Arabia and suggests that Saudi Arabia is somehow complicit in beoutQ’s broadcasts,” Saudi Arabia’s ministry of media responded, suggesting that it may instead be based in Colombia or Cuba.

It added: “The Ministry rejects these allegations in the strongest possible terms.”

The statement issued on the Wimbledon website explains that “beIN MEDIA GROUP is the exclusive rights holder in the MENA region of major tennis tournaments”, and that tennis’ governing bodies are completely behind the entertainment network in its fight against beoutQ.

The Kingdom’s media ministry, however, has branded the claims that beoutQ is based in Saudi Arabia as “highly suspect” and “Al Jazeera propaganda”.

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“Suggesting that Saudi Arabia is in any way complicit in beoutQ’s operation both offends the Saudi people and is a malicious lie,” it added.

“Through its Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Saudi Arabia has relentlessly combated beoutQ’s activities within the country. For instance, the Ministry of Commerce has seized thousands of set-top boxes that would otherwise be used to violate intellectual property (IP) in the Kingdom.

“The government of Saudi Arabia is and will remain devoted to protecting IP rights within the country.”

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