(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia rejected as “baseless” an accusation by UEFA, soccer’s governing body in Europe, that the BeoutQ pirate service is based in the kingdom, insisting it has cracked down on devices used to illegally transmit premium sports events.

"UEFA’s irresponsible statement is contrary to what is occurring in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the Information Ministry said in an emailed statement. The Saudi government has "relentlessly combated BeoutQ’s activities within the country," it said, confiscating thousands of set-top boxes that would otherwise have violated intellectual property rights.

UEFA has been provided with evidence indicating that BeoutQ started in Saudi Arabia, and that key elements are operated by persons there, it said an emailed statement Friday. The comment followed a warning by UEFA on Thursday that illicit broadcasts of some of its top matches of the past season pose a significant threat to European football.

UEFA said it was aware that BeoutQ had illegally distributed the Champions League and the Europa League games throughout 2017 and 2018 and it would “take the necessary steps to address the issue.”

Saudi’s information ministry said that BeoutQ devices are also available in other countries, including Qatar and Eastern Europe. The Saudi government remains "devoted to protecting IP rights within the country," the statement said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Fiona MacDonald in Kuwait at fmacdonald4@bloomberg.net;David Hellier in London at dhellier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net, Marthe Fourcade, Steve Geimann

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