The European Court of Justice said on Thursday, February 17, that individual countries can rule that live coverage of the European Championships and the World Cup games must be offered on free-to-air channels.
UEFA and FIFA filed a complaint with the Luxembourg-based court against the European Commission, which had earlier ruled that Belgium and the UK stood in their rights when ruling that such major football events are of “major importance” and cannot be restricted to viewers subscribing to pay-TV channels.
Following the ECJ’s verdict, UEFA and FIFA have two months to appeal. By restricting the number of broadcasters bidding for these rights, the two organisations are bound to lose money, as they prefer to have as many parties as possible bidding for the rights. When a country rules that such games need to be broadcast free-to-air, this limits the potential bidders to public and private FTA broadcasters.