FIFA and UEFA fail to take tournaments off terrestrial channels

Pele With Sepp Blatter

The world and European footballing authorities have failed in their attempt to sell the World Cup and European Championship to pay-to-view channels

Last week brought a significant victory for football fans in Britain as the European Court of Justice ruled that FIFA and UEFA were wrong to challenge the decision by a number of European nations, including the UK, to show World Cup and European Championship games on free terrestrial channels.

It brought to an end a case that began just before Euro 2008 when the world and European footballing authorities lodged their argument that they couldn't capitalise on their tournaments and bring in the true market value that pay-to-view channels would be willing to pay, because countries like Britain believed that they held huge social interest and should be available to the highest proportion of the population.

Once again FIFA and UEFA are seen to be chasing their next huge cash injection at the expense of fan's enjoyment of the sport and a chance to watch their national team compete.

Inspired by the Premier League's new television deal that brings in over £3 billion, Blatter is keen to add an extra layer of revenue on top of the £1.3 billion that his organisation received in 2010 after South Africa hosted the World Cup.

Considering that for every World Cup FIFA demand brand new stadia, hotels and transport, as well as tax breaks, advertising legislation and luxury events, it seems that their thirst for the next big bundle of cash is unquenchable.

Their latest quest to make two of the world's most popular sporting events available to a select few with the means to purchase satellite television packages, at a time when every one of their member nations is suffering financial decline, flies in the face of their aim of "bringing hope to those less privileged" through football.

FIFA and UEFA would argue that by extracting more money from the sale of it's most valuable products they have more money to implement development projects all over the world, especially those involving it's Goal project.

However, if they cut back on their own lavish lifestyle then they wouldn't need to reach into fan's pockets and could instead use their own cash reserves of $1 billion. Some of the figures in their annual budget are staggering.

If they were so keen on football development, they wouldn't spend $217 million dollars of their budget on building maintenance, receptions and travel, compared to the $227 million for all their assistance programmes, technical development and refereeing courses.

They only set aside £81 million for the Club World Cup, U-20 and U-17 Women’s World Cups and the Youth Olympic Football Tournament - events that are much more enjoyable for fans than FIFA's exclusive congresses in the Caribbean.

Providing enjoyment is what FIFA and UEFA’s aim should be as custodians. They should be there to extend the net and make the sport available to as many people as possible, linking people from such drastically varying societies by the love of this sport.

Yet, they continue to alienate the footballing community through their history with corruption, poor governance and so many slaps in the faces of fans that the skin is starting to split. The European Court of Justice has saved the governing bodies from suffering the universal wrath that they have become accustomed to in recent years, and secured many fan’s happy summers.

image: © World Economic Forum

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