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Member States to continue to pick free-to-air sporting events

Members States can decide that sporting events like the World Cup are free-to-air

Members States can decide that sporting events like the World Cup are free-to-air

EU countries will continue to be allowed to decide for themselves the sporting events that are important to their general public and should therefore be available on free-to-air television, according to the EU Court of Justice.

The Court’s ruling related to an appeal by FIFA and UEFA against an EU Commission decision to approve lists of football matches to be available on free-to-view television submitted by Belgium and the UK.

The Court found that the Commission had acted correctly in approving the lists of events of UK and Belgium and the actions by FIFA and UEFA were dismissed.

Belgium and the UK submitted lists that included all 64 matches of the FIFA World Cup finals tournament. The UK’s list also included all 31 matches of theUEFA European Football Championship.  FIFA and UEFA had argued that whole final tournaments cannot be considered as events of major importance.

Under the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive (Article 14), Member States can draw up a list of events of major importance for their general public and take measures to ensure that these events (like the Olympic Games) are accessible on free-to-view television. Interestingly, the FIFA World Cup is given as an example of an event of major importance in the directive.

The lists drawn up can be submitted to the European Commission for approval in order to get recognition in other Member States. At present, the lists provided by Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and UK have been approved.

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