FIFA leads top soccer bodies’ attack on Saudi TV piracy

              Qatar's head coach Felix Sanchez, left, gestures during the AFC Asian Cup group E soccer match between Saudi Arabia and Qatar at Zayed Sport City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

ZURICH (AP) — In their strongest attack yet on broadcasting theft, soccer’s governing bodies and top leagues have condemned Saudi Arabia-backed pirate network beoutQ.

A joint statement by FIFA, UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation plus the English Premier League, German Bundesliga and Spanish league denounces “persistent and illegal screening” of soccer games where Qatar’s beIN Sports owns the Middle East rights.

The conflict is a proxy fight in the 19-month political and logistical boycott of Qatar by regional rivals including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Piracy last year of World Cup and Champions League continues at the Asian Cup, which is being played in the UAE.

The soccer bodies say broadcast rights money helps “grow the sports of which we are guardians” and “piracy kills that investment.”

Legal action in Saudi Arabia is being considered.