European Court Of Justice Upholds '11 Ruling World Cup, Euro Must Be Shown On Free TV
FIFA and UEFA "have lost an appeal against a European ruling that the World Cup and Euro Championships should be shown on free-to-air TV" in the U.K., according to Bill Wilson of the BBC. In '11, the European General Court said that the U.K. "could keep the events on a list of 'protected' events of national sporting interest broadcast for free." It means the two tournaments "cannot be sold exclusively to pay-TV firms." FIFA and UEFA "had appealed" after saying that they could not sell the events fairly for their real value. But the European Court of Justice -- Europe's Supreme Court -- has now said the original decision in the General Court in '11 "was correct" (BBC, 7/18). BLOOMBERG's Stephanie Bodoni reported a ruling in FIFA's favor "could have ended decades of tradition in the U.K., where the World Cup, the most-watched sporting event, must be shown on free television channels" including the BBC. UEFA said Thursday's decision "not only distorts competition in a free market, but also reduces the possibility to generate income that can then be distributed to the amateur game via solidarity payments" (BLOOMBERG, 7/18).
NOT CREATED EQUAL: The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported UEFA and FIFA argued that "not all the games in the tournaments 'could constitute events of major importance for the general public' and claimed only the final matches of the competitions should be Listed Events." Belgium "also has a similar law regarding World Cup matches, and that was also challenged by FIFA" (DAILY RECORD, 7/18). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported in Britain, the restrictions mean all World Cup and Euro games "have to be shown on either the BBC or ITV." In Belgium, "the rules apply only to the World Cup" and public broadcasters VRT (Dutch) and RTBF (French) have the rights (REUTERS, 7/18).