Qatari broadcasters have urgently pleaded with Gianni Infantino to resolve Saudi Arabia's block on TV coverage as part of a power play at the World Cup.
The Fifa president is under intense pressure to warn Saudi after Telegraph Sport detailed how beIN's streaming platforms were being blocked. A source with knowledge of the situation claims that new legal representations from beIN had been taken to both Fifa and Saudi authorities on Saturday.
The insider added: "Ultimately Infantino needs to answer a very simple question: how possibly can your official streaming partner be banned? And by the country and head of state who is bidding for the next World Cup."
Saudi sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisa, told British broadcasters earlier this week that his nation was keen to host a future World Cup. But despite his claims that the country was fully supportive of Qatar, a spat between the nations now appears to be erupting again behind the scenes.
Streaming platforms for beIN – the Qatari-owned broadcaster which counts Gary Neville among pundits – are said to have been turned off across the neighbouring nation.
Coverage was cut an hour before Sunday's opening ceremony in a move causing a major headache for Fifa as beIN is one of its biggest right-holders for the tournament. Frantic negotiations have taken place between the nations, but Saudi's Ministry of Media – allegedly buoyed by the country's shock triumph over Argentina – is understood to have refused to relent.
The move has particularly infuriated Qatar as Saudi rulers had in previously switched off piracy network beoutQ to ensure beIN, one of the Premier League's biggest right-holders, would no longer object to the Newcastle United takeover.
Relations between nations had improved in the build up to the tournament and tens of thousands of Saudis are currently in Doha cheering on their team. Saudi lost 2-0 to Poland in their second match on Saturday.
BeIN is understood to have received complaints from its many customers in Saudi after the streaming platform it owns – called TOD.tv – was suddenly cut. A letter sent to customers and business partners from TOD outlines how the broadcaster was subjected to an alleged cyber attack before the blockage took place.
TOD broadcasts across the entire Middle East and North Africa and has millions of subscribers in Saudi Arabia, where it is bigger than Netflix and Disney.
The insider added: "Saudi consumers have gone crazy about this – however the news has been almost unseen since the opening game for two main reasons:
"Saudi have suppressed the news; and beIN broadcasts 22 of the 64 matches of the World Cup on free-to-air which is still available in every home (basically the big matches are still accessible – stopping riots on the street)."
Sources added that Saudi's public investment fund, which ultimately owns Newcastle, attempted – but failed – to buy beIN last year.
Despite the claims of the behind the scenes row, Saudi Arabia and Qatari heads of state have been attending games arm in arm, wearing respective country flags. It is not clear whether Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) is aware of the situation.
Qatar newspapers claimed MBS had ordered all Saudi ministries and government institutions to support Qatar’s World Cup efforts ahead of the tournament. However, messages on Twitter appear to show Saudi-based customers of beIN complaining to the state's ministry in charge.
"You [the ministry] undermine the credibility of the commercial companies in Saudi Arabia that marketed the product," one beIN customer in Saudi said.
Pirate pay TV broadcaster beoutQ operated in Saudi Arabia between August 2017 and August 2019. The Premier League had been warned beIN would sever its agreement with the league if it allowed the Newcastle takeover to go through while a row with Saudi continued.
BeIN, Fifa and Saudi Arabia were contacted about the claims. A beIN spokesman declined to comment.