World Cup and Euros must remain ‘Free to Air’

Sean Kelly MEP (Ireland South) has welcomed moves to ensure that the World Cup and European Championships will remain permanently free to air.

The European Court of Justice’s Advocate General yesterday issued an Opinion rejecting FIFA and UEFA’s appeal against this measure.

Mr Kelly acknowledged how important free-to-air broadcasting of soccer is to sports fans in Ireland. “Watching live sport has long been an extremely popular source of entertainment and I welcome moves to ensure that the there will be no pay-per-view for the World Cup or European Championships,” he commented.

FIFA and UEFA have appealed to the Courts claiming that all the matches in the final tournaments could not be considered of major importance. In that scenario, they could gain extra revenue by selling rights to pay-per-view channels.

Mr Kelly, however is in support of the Advocate General’s position that the discretion should lie with the Member State to decide which matches its viewing public would consider important.

The former GAA President concluded, “The EU strives to promote sport in all capacities, including the viewing of live sport. If the ECJ adopts the Advocate General’s opinion, it will further our commitment to sport in the EU”.

Sources say that this is likely to happen as, in the vast majority of cases, the Advocate General’s opinion is upheld by the ECJ.


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