CAF faces legal kicking in Egypt over international football TV rights deal
| 09 January 2017
Egypt’s competition watchdog has referred The Confederation of African Football (CAF) for prosecution over the sale of its global TV rights, which it claims breaches monopoly rules.
African Cup of Nations 2017 logoThe Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) made the announcement ahead of the start of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Gabon on 14 January.
Cairo-based CAF’s worldwide broadcast rights have been extended until 2028 to French company Lagardère Sports for a reported fee of US$1 billion.
CAF, which denies the antitrust claims, agreed to renew the contract “after evaluating the different offers submitted and in strict compliance with the existing contractual clauses”, it said.
Saying the contract guarantees African football “a substantial increase in revenues and substantial funding for the development of football on the continent,” the CAF added “the contract with Lagardère Sports does not contravene national or supranational legislation”.
Legardère won the media and marketing rights for all CAF tournaments for the next 12 years, including the Africa Cup of Nations, in a deal reportedly worth ten times the fee agreed for the previous nine years’ rights – also forged between Lagardère and CAF.
Egyptian broadcaster, Presentation, reportedly failed to secure a sub-licence to broadcast matches from Lagardère, and instead Lagardère sold the regional rights to air the tournament in the Middle East and North Africa to Qatari-owned network BeIn Sports.
ECA said it would allow beIN channels to continue to broadcast the Africa Cup of Nations within Egypt, but that CAF should give the broadcast rights to an Egyptian TV channel to allow viewers some choice in a competitive environment.
“The ECA merely called for a return to competition within the Egyptian market, which the CAF's actions have abolished,” the ECA said in a statement on Sunday (8 January).
The ECA previously said Lagardère’s case required investigation as its rights include “terrestrial and satellite broadcasting through television, and online broadcasting, not only in Egypt and Africa, but globally”. It added that the football authority “intentionally ignored several requests to offer to sell these rights in the framework of a public auction that takes into account the rules of fair and transparent competition”.