- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
FIFA, UEFA lose legal challenge over TV coverage
Question of the Day
BRUSSELS (AP) - Chalk up another giant victory for Britain’s regular folks. The glorious months of World Cup or European Championship soccer, when dozens of games are followed with rabid enthusiasm across the continent, will stay on free TV, not cable.
In a major slapdown to powerful federations like FIFA and UEFA, who pocket big profits from lucrative TV broadcasting rights, a European Union high court in Luxembourg ruled Thursday that they have no right to sell most of their prime tournaments to pay-TV networks.
The court said World Cup and Euro games are cherished social and cultural events that belong to all the people, including the poor.
It was the second TV victory for ordinary citizens this month. A top EU court official also advised that bars and individuals have the right to use the cheapest satellite decoder available to watch matches in England’s Premier League, even if that sidesteps exclusive national broadcasting agreements.
Some experts see a trend.
“It is certainly valid to link those two as two consecutive victories for couch potatoes,” said Callum Murray, editorial director of Sportcal Global Communication, a sports information company specializing in broadcast and marketing rights.
The price of stadium seats for Europe’s top games have long ago spiraled out of reach for most people. A fan in London could easily spend 65 to 100 pounds ($105 to $162) for a regular seat _ and hedge fund types pay tens of thousands a year for club boxes.
Cable TV soccer packages in England begin about 40 pounds ($65) a month and some games have an additional pay-per-view cost.
But with the EU court action, there just might be more money for beer and chips in people’s living rooms.
FIFA and UEFA, which govern world and European soccer, wanted to sell the exclusive rights to most World Cup and European championship games to the highest bidder, including pay-TV channels, arguing that broadcasting rights constitute a major source of their income.
While some EU nations reserved free viewing for a limited number of games, including their own national team and the final and semifinal of those big championships, Britain and Belgium had earmarked the entire tournaments for free TV.
To boost their sales, especially from Britain, FIFA and UEFA challenged it before the General Court of the European Union, arguing the important matches like the semis and final were already protected. They also claimed that many first round games don’t even get good ratings.
However, the EU Court said the World Cup and the European Championship were “single events” that could not be divvied up at will.
FIFA and UEFA have two months to appeal the decision, but only on the points of law, not on the principles of the case.
“This is good news for people who want to watch important sporting events on television without having to pay for it,” EU Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said.
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- DCCC raising money on suggestion Obama impeachment is imminent
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- Pentagon running out of time to find mass of missing weapons in Afghanistan
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq