In the last several months, there have been numerous developments by rights holders such as La Liga and the Premier League in their fight to shut down sites and prosecute pirates who are profiting off illegal streams of soccer games.

One of the companies who are deploying anti-piracy technology is TMG, who have been appointed to monitor beIN SPORTS’ streaming content globally.

“Social networks and user-generated content websites have become straightforward places for fans to share content they don’t actually own the rights for,” said Bastien Casalta, Chief Technology Officer at TMG.

In the partnership between TMG and beIN SPORTS, concrete measures will include live content removal, pirate link takedown and ultimately, legal action to close non-compliant websites permanently. “It will become much more difficult – and risky – for one to indulge in pirating beIN SPORTS’s premium content over the coming years,” asserted Casalta.

How risky? We interviewed TMG CEO Alain Ghanime to find out, as well as to learn more about the risks that illegal streaming can cause to consumers.

World Soccer Talk: What are the risks to consumers (security, privacy, etc.) who watch soccer games via illegal streams?

Alain Ghanime (AG): “The first implication of looking for illegitimate content online is that you come across a string of scam websites, where you won’t be able to actually watch the content you’re looking for. Instead, those sites will attempt to get people to click on malicious links or share personal information, while flooding them with unwanted ads. As with any illegal streaming, users expose themselves to a string of digital threats. Agreeing to open non-secured video streams is an open door to viruses, malware, ransomware, and blue screens. Consequences can be more than unpleasant, as being hacked potentially means data theft or corruption, or even identity theft.”

WST: What makes the technology from TMG different than other similar companies?

AG: “TMG steps in when all other content protection systems have failed. Pay-TV and over-the-top (OTT) providers secure their premium content with conditional access systems, which protect data streams from unauthorized access. Content itself is often controlled using watermarking or digital rights management (DRM) technologies, which enable, to some extent, content use to be tracked and restricted. But none of these schemes is 100% efficient. TMG detects content that is pirated despite the above technologies, and made available online. We monitor and take down unauthorized content and streams. In terms of live sports, TMG’s technology is fast, and our verification processes ensure that results are as exhaustive as possible, and 100% accurate.”

WST: If soccer fans find illegal streams, what’s the process that needs to happen so they can report them?

AG: “They can report it to us directly, via the Report Piracy link on our website, or they can inform the rights-holder directly, or the broadcaster that has purchased expensive rights to broadcast the game.”

WST: By your own research or industry research, how prevalent is illegal streaming of soccer games?

AG: “La Liga has recently estimated an annual loss of €509m ($570 million) due to the pirating of audiovisual transmissions of soccer in Spain alone. From our point of view, soccer is top of the list in terms of pirated sports, although in the USA, other sports such as baseball or football are heavily targeted as well.”

WST: How can illegal streaming websites stay in business for so long?

AG: “Most illegal streaming sites quickly stop making content available when requested to. Non-compliant ones will certainly take more time and effort, but they eventually all shut down permanently. And every year, rights-holders file new lawsuits and sentences become harsher, including prison and heavy fines.”

SEE MORE: La Liga takes aim at fighting illegal streaming of soccer games

Turkish police have stifled an LGBT pride march in Istanbul after organisers pressed ahead with the event despite a third ban in three years by authorities. 

Police with riot shields and helmets sealed off entrances to Istiklal Street, where organisers had planned to hold the march before authorities announced the ban on Saturday, citing security concerns after threats from an ultra-nationalist group.

Small groups of people gathered in sidestreets waving rainbow flags, symbols of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride.

Protesters gathered in the nearby neighbourhood of Cihangir, beating drums and chanting slogans such as “Don’t be quiet, shout out, gay people exist!”

Police fired rubber bullets to disperse one group, witnesses said, and detained several people. Officers with dogs also chased activists.

Footage posted on the internet also appeared to show them firing tear gas at one location.

Speaking to AFP, Lara Ozlen, from the march’s organising committee, said: “It is obvious that a peaceful march is part of our constitutional right.

“It’s been known for years. Instead of protecting us, to say ‘do not march’ just because some will be disturbed is undemocratic.”


Turkish riot police officers block an access to Istiklal avenue to prevent LGBT rights activists from going ahead with a Gay Pride (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Istanbul’s pride march attracted tens of thousands of people in the past, making it one of the biggest in the Muslim world. But in 2015 it was broken up by police and it was banned last year and again this year after threats from the ultra-nationalist Alperen Hearths group.

The Istanbul governor’s office said it decided to prevent the demonstration out of concern for the security of marchers, tourists and residents.

“The true reason for the reactions towards a march that took place in peace for 12 years is hate,” organisers said.

“Our security cannot be provided by imprisoning us behind walls, asking us to hide,” they added. “Our security will be provided by recognising us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom.”

Istanbul has traditionally been seen as a relative safe haven by members of the gay community from elsewhere in the Middle East, including refugees from Syria and Iraq.

But although homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, unlike many other Muslim countries, homophobia remains widespread. Critics say President Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party have shown little interest in expanding rights for minorities, gays and women, and are intolerant of dissent.

Additional reporting by Reuters