EU legal advisor backs free broadcasts
BRUSSELS - The Associated Press
UEFA got more than 800 million euros in broadcast rights from Euro 2012 hosted in Ukraine and Poland. AFP PhotoThe legal adviser to the European Union’s top court yesterday backed the rights of football fans to see their World Cup and European Championship games free of charge on television.
Advocate General Niilo Jaaskinen advised the court to dismiss the appeal of the FIFA and UEFA federations. The European Court of Justice is to rule on the issue but mostly follows the advice of its advocate general.
FIFA and UEFA are seeking more leeway to sell their games to the highest bidders without the constraints of EU law which allows nations to pick certain sports events that must be shown on free-to-air television.
The television packages are among the most valuable in sports. UEFA got 800 million euros in broadcast rights from Euro 2012, while FIFA took $2.4 billion for the 2010 World Cup.
The urge to optimize those broadcast rights clashes with the EU’s directive aimed at giving the population the right to watch what are considered essential sporting events on free television. Britain and Belgium both drew up lists including all of the matches of the World Cup finals, while London also added all Euro matches.
Jaaskinen insisted yesterday that the measure was “justified, and therefore proportionate.”