Spain-Belarus Won’t Be Shown In Spain Due To Overpriced Rights

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

Here’s a situation USMNT fans can appreciate: Spain, the reigning World and European champions, will not be on Spanish TV tonight when they take on Belarus in a World Cup 2014 qualifier. A third party rights-holder who purchased them from the Belarus FA won’t budge from an exorbitant asking price, and not Spanish TV outlet is willing to pay.

International sports marketing agency Sportfive, who bought the rights from the Belarussian FA, had originally asked €3 million for the Spanish market, and although their asking price has since slipped to €800k, there were still no takers with just hours to go until kick-off at 2000 BST (2100 GMT) Friday evening.

A Spanish FA (RFEF) spokesperson told Madrid-based newspaper AS on Friday morning that he was still hopeful of a solution, but that the TV stations would not be held to ransom as “advertisers cannot pay the amounts they used to pay” given the current financial crisis sweeping Spain.

Third parties often snap up the rights to qualifiers from FA who hold the rights, complicating the broadcast issue.

The Spanish FA (RFEF) hopes Spain’s plight will speed up the process of FIFA centralizing TV rights.

An RFEF senior executive told AS that the fiasco would force FIFA to speed up its plans to centralise the sale of TV rights for qualifiers in future.

“It is normal that at some point a brake is put on the ‘modus operandi’ of these intermediaries who buy the rights from the smaller federations hoping that they draw a big opponent to sell the game for a huge price,” he said. “FIFA will take into account what is happening with Spain in Belarus and will accelerate the new model, which will move to buying bundles of games without intermediaries, directly, as UEFA do with the Champions League.”

As someone who was forced to watch a Honduras-USA qualifier in a crowded bar via a grainy picture, I’m with the RFEF exec.


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