‘Fifa World Cup piracy led by social media,’ says report

More than 8,000 illegal links for matches found on Facebook alone.

‘Fifa World Cup piracy led by social media,’ says report

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More than 40,000 illegal streaming links were detected during the 2018 Fifa World Cup held in Russia, according to research by Viaccess-Orca (VO).

The content production and data solutions company has released a report detailing the effectiveness of the firm’s success in combatting piracy and illegal streaming during the global soccer tournament.

The statistics, which cover the entirety of the 32-day competition, reveal that 40,713 piracy links were detected by the technology-led research across all platforms. VO had partnered with content protection company LeakID in an attempt to track and fight illegal streaming sites during the competition.

The results of the research highlighted the critical role played by social media in the number of pirate networks being located. 14,615 links were discovered on social media sites, with 8,462 on Facebook and a further 1,988 on YouTube. These figures represented 41,371,139 viewers, according to the VO data.

Christine Maury Panis, executive vice president of general counsel and security at Viaccess-Orca, said: “The number of illegal streaming networks is growing, and this is an issue that needs to be dealt with urgently.

“Creating awareness about the end-to-end chain and sharing it with public stakeholders is important, so that each player has a deep view on the overall landscape and the part it can play in absolving this problem. We hope that these reports provide clarity about the reality of illegal streaming and show how operators can deter it with intelligent anti-piracy services.”

Perhaps the most high-profile incident of piracy at the tournament came in the case of BeoutQ – a Saudi-based station operating in the Middle East and North Africa regions, with the pirate channel accused of stealing the signal of BeIN Sports and broadcasting the coverage as its own. The issue has grown since the World Cup, with BeoutQ alleged to have stolen a range of sporting rights from BeIN since the tournament ended.

The illegal coverage has grown out of a trade ban between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which meant that fans in the former country are not able to watch BeIN. This then resulted in the World Cup not being officially broadcast in Saudi Arabia, despite its national team featuring at the tournament for the first time since 2006.

The World Cup, which saw hosts Russia reach the quarter-finals, was won by France, who beat Croatia 4-2 in the final.