Offbeat | Social media to stream Asian football games amid piracy battle

Seeking to resolve the television piracy of Qatari-owned broadcast rights by Saudi Arabian interests, the Asian Football Confederation will use its Facebook and YouTube channels to broadcast Saudi-hosted football games in its competitions.

The AFC said yesterday it wants to protect broadcast partners and “tackle attempts to illegally exploit those rights wherever it occurs.”

The Asian football body announced the compromise less than four weeks before its presidential election in Kuala Lumpur. Incumbent Sheikh Salman of Bahrain faces candidates from Qatar and Saudi-supported United Arab Emirates.

Pirate network beoutQ in Saudi Arabia has long been broadcasting the signals of World Cup, Asian Cup and Champions League games that are exclusively owned in the region by Qatar-owned BeIN Sports. Saudi authorities have declared BeIN illegal in the kingdom — a proxy battle in the wider economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar by hostile regional neighbors for nearly two years.

The AFC said it will use social media to stream “matches involving Saudi Arabia teams played in Saudi Arabia.”

The Saudi football federation said the decision amounts to canceling “the BeIN sport monopoly over all Asian Football Confederation competitions.”

The AFC declined to say if BeIN Sports has been paid compensation for the compromise.

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