JEDDAH: Qatar was accused on Saturday of using world tennis authorities to pursue a smear campaign against Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh denied allegations that a television channel illegally showing Wimbledon tennis matches is based in the Kingdom.
A statement issued on the Wimbledon website called for the immediate closure of beoutQ for broadcasting tennis without the right to do so.
“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 said.
It said Saudi Arabia had “relentlessly” combated beoutQ’s activities in the Kingdom, and restated its commitment to protecting intellectual property rights. “Wimbledon’s allegations parrot those emanating from Al Jazeera Media Network and its subsidiary beIN Sports,” the ministry said. “Suggesting that Saudi Arabia is in any way complicit in beoutQ’s operation both offends the Saudi people and is a malicious lie.
“Wimbledon and the various tennis associations know or should know that beginning in June 2017, the Saudi government banned all broadcasts by Al Jazeera and its affiliates because Al Jazeera is a media platform for terrorists to propagate their violent messages and to promote instability in the region.
“It used beIN Sports’s World Cup broadcasts to defame Saudi Arabia, the Saudi football federation, and national team. For these reasons Al Jazeera, beIN Sports and their affiliates will never again broadcast in Saudi Arabia.
“Given Al Jazeera’s known role in supporting terrorism and its inability to provide any media content in Saudi territory, the ministry urges Wimbledon and the tennis associations to end their relationships with beIN Sports and other Al Jazeera entities.”
The statement said "the government of Saudi Arabia is and will remain devoted to protecting IP rights within the country.”
It noted that the Saudi Ministry of Commerce has seized thousands of set-top boxes that would otherwise be used to violate intellectual property (IP) in the country.
"While Al-Jazeera has repeatedly accused Arabsat (a quasi-governmental entity of the Arab League in Riyadh, established by 22 of its member states) of facilitating beoutQ’s transmissions, however, to date, Al-Jazeera has not provided any credible evidence that it has done so. To the contrary, Al-Jazeera has repeatedly pointed to the “unparalleled sophistication” with which beoutQ has easily overcome Al-Jazeera’s and beIN Sports’ state-of-the-art anti-piracy technology. Therefore, Wimbledon’s suggestion that Arabsat is facilitating or otherwise turning a blind eye to beoutQ’s operations is simply more Al-Jazeera propaganda," it said.
“We are disappointed that representatives of credible tennis associations are being used in the Wimbledon press release as mouthpieces by Al-Jazeera,” the statement added.
Al-Jazeera’s response to the ban has been to escalate a political campaign against Saudi Arabia. It has used beIN Sports’ 2018 FIFA World Cup broadcasts to defame the Kingdom, the Saudi Arabian football federation, and national team.
Given Al-Jazeera’s known role in supporting terrorism and its inability to provide any media content in Saudi Arabian territory, the ministry urged Wimbledon and the tennis associations to end their relationships with beIN Sports and other Al-Jazeera entities.