Ecuadorian federation claims Conmebol backing in GolTV defence
Conmebol, the governing body for soccer in South America, has written to the FEF, the Ecuadorian soccer federation, asserting the latter’s independence to make decisions without external interference amid a dispute over a domestic broadcasting rights contract.
The FEF had contacted Conmebol late last month to seek its input after a judge in Guayaquil revoked a 10-year, $276-million rights deal the federation had signed with GolTV, the Latin American cable and satellite broadcaster, for the top-tier Serie A.
In its letter sent to FEF president Carlos Villacís on Monday, Conmebol secretary general José Astigarraga said that associations must “manage their affairs independently and ensure that there is no interference by third parties in their internal affairs or that of their members. This obligation extends equally to clubs, territorial or regional federations, leagues and any other entity.”
The FEF has published the letter on its website to support its case as it awaits a decision from a court relating to its challenge to the ruling of judge Jean Valverde on 24 January to cancel the contract signed with GolTV, the company owned by renowned Uruguayan player agent Paco Casal, and order a new bidding process.
This is despite the fact that Alejandro Dominguez, the president of Conmebol, asserted last year that his organisation would not grant contracts to GolTV, accusing the broadcaster of failing to honour a previous deal.
Earlier this month, the FEF claimed backing from Fifa, citing a letter from general secretary Fatma Samoura on 16 February which stated that “Fifa, its member federations and the confederations shall be the original owners of all competition rights and other affairs which emanate from their respective jurisdictions. These rights include, among others, those of recording and audiovisual broadcasting, as well as the commercialisation.”
That letter went on: “In line with the principles of good governance and transparency, we support the decision of the FEF and its relevant agencies to carry out a bidding process to award the audiovisual rights contract for the matches of the Ecuadorian Football Championship first division.”
It added that “all member federations must manage their affairs independently and ensure that there is no undue interference by third parties in their internal affairs.”
In the wake of the judge’s intervention, the FEF did relaunch the Serie A rights tender only to announce subsequently that there had been no acceptable offers for the rights, and that the deal with GolTV would be respected.
The contract with Casal's company was agreed last June, but has been subject to criticism and legal challenges because of an alleged lack of transparency and good business practice.
Officials of the FEF, Abdalá Bucaram Pulley, a politician and former soccer player, who filed a complaint about the GolTV deal, and representatives of interested third parties in broadcasters DirecTV and TV Cable attended a judicial hearing in the provincial court of Guayas last Friday, but the outcome has yet to be announced.
The suspension of the GolTV deal has forced the FEF to take contingency measures for TV coverage of the top division at the start of the 2018 season, with games shown by cable groups CNT and Asocope and on free-to-air channels including Teleamazonas and TVC.
Earlier this month, satellite broadcaster DirecTV claimed to have submitted an offer, on behalf of itself and fellow operators TV Cable and Univisa, that would have been worth $432 million over 10 years, but this was deemed inadmissible by the FEF.