Billionaire Carlos Slim's Foray Into Mexican Football First Division Rattles TV Rivals
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's latest acquisitive foray "is meeting resistance" after touching a national passion: football, according to the AP. Slim recently bought part of two of Mexico's first division football teams, setting up another showdown with TV giants Televisa and TV Azteca -- major players in the football field that are in turn "trying to push their way" into Slim's telecom and Internet markets. The owners of the 18 Mexican first division clubs are scheduled to meet Monday to decide whether one person or one company can own more than one first-division football team, and many see Slim as the target. Each team has one vote in decisions by the Mexican Football Federation, "so purchasing more teams would give Slim more power in the federation." Slim ventured into football in September, when he bought 30% of the shares of football clubs Leon and Pachuca. Following the acquisitions, "team owners in February decided to discuss the issue of multi-ownership." The decision raised some eyebrows since TV Azteca currently owns two teams "and Televisa once owned three first division teams." Pachuca Owner Jesus Martinez said that "he was shocked that the subject of multi-ownership has come up" since Slim ventured into football. Martinez: "It's laughable because that (multi-ownership) has been going on for more than 25 years." Slim's foray into the world of football "is also threatening the two TV networks in an area they hold dear: broadcast rights to games." Slim's America Movil is a leading provider of cable and satellite TV in Latin America, but he has not been able to launch a network of his own in Mexico, "something that could change after a recent approval of a reform that allows for more competition in the telecommunications sector." Telecom analyst Gabriel Sosa Plata said, "Soccer is important for non-paid television because it is part of Mexico's most watched programming and for Televisa and TV Azteca it was an area they completely dominated. Slim's entry into soccer is reorganizing the field and giving a new perspective to a business that seemed stagnant" (AP, 5/19).