There are more calls to move the Juventus v Milan Supercoppa clash from Saudi Arabia, but this time by beIN to combat piracy.
The match is due to take place in Jeddah on January 16, but the choice of venue has caused huge controversy for several different reasons.
It was initially pointed out that Italy should shun Saudi Arabia following the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, then there were protests that women would only be allowed in to certain sections of the stadium when accompanied by men.
Now beIN Sports are demanding the Lega Serie A pull out of the Italian Super Cup fixture in order to take a stand against piracy.
The channel’s CEO, Yousef Al-Obaidly, disagreed with Serie A’s claims that next Wednesday’s match in Jeddah would promote ‘Made in Italy and its values’.
In a letter to Serie A boss Luigi De Siervo, he said: “The match in fact serves merely as a promotion of ‘Stolen by Saudi Arabia’.”
For nearly 18 months a piracy operation has enabled a Saudi channel, called beoutQ, to steal beIN’s exclusive broadcasts across the MENA region, including matches from Serie A, La Liga, Premier League, UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup.
The Riyadh-based operation superimposes its own logo over the beIN one and transmits the content via the Arabsat satellite, which is owned by Saudi Arabia.
beoutQ started broadcasting in August 2017 after Saudi Arabia launched a trade boycott of Qatar, which meant matches shown on the Doha-based channel were no longer available.
“Although the letter suggests that Serie A has been at the forefront of the fight against piracy, the letter does not once address our principal point – that being beoutQ, the most sophisticated pirate operation the world has even seen, which is backed by Saudi Arabia,” added Al-Obaidly, referencing a letter received from former Lega Serie A leader Marco Brunelli last year.
He also demands that the Lega Serie A issues a public a statement ahead of the Super Cup calling on the Saudi authorities to halt the piracy operation, pulls out of hosting the tournament in Jeddah and finds somewhere even at this late stage and joins a group legal action against beoutQ, which is expected to include FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation.
In its letter, beIN pointed out that by going ahead with holding the Supercoppa in Jeddah, it would effectively be shooting itself in the foot.
“Saudi Arabia has been actively supporting a plague of piracy on world sports and entertainment over 18 months, which is undermining the long-term commercial prospects of Serie A and rights holders worldwide.
“Unless Saudi Arabia’s attempt to undermine the rule of law is addressed, it will fatally damage one of Serie A’s most important sources of growth revenue.”
Reporting by Anthony Harwood and The Gulf Times