AFA scraps Fox league rights deal, but Boca and River agitated
The Argentine Football Association has cancelled the broadcasting rights agreement with pay-television operator Fox Sports for the country’s top-tier soccer league.
The decision was taken on Friday on the grounds that Fox had not provided sufficient notice of its absorption by Walt Disney-owned ESPN.
The CNDC, the Argentine competition authority, had last week recommended that the country’s trade ministry reject the merger on antitrust grounds.
Fox and another US-backed company Turner have shared rights to the Superliga in a five-year, 17.5 billion pesos ($226 million) agreement that came into effect in 2017-18, but the competition is set to be replaced by the new Liga Profesional de Futbol when soccer resumes in Argentina on 30 October, after a seven-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Walt Disney has been taking over Fox Sports operations in Latin America under the terms of its $71 billion acquisition of assets of 21st Century Fox concluded in March 2019, but has faced competition issues in some countries, including Brazil and Mexico.
It is thought that Turner could now take on the league rights previously held by Fox in an enhanced contract, but this is yet to be confirmed.
The scrapping of the deal with Fox was backed by 20 of the 24 presidents of the first division clubs, but not Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors and River Plate.
In a statement, the two clubs said: “After the AFA announcements of modifications to the football television contract, Boca and River communicate that they were not part of the definition of the new contractual scenario and at the same time state that they do not consider it fair not to have participated in such an important decision for the future of football and the clubs.
“Although the AFA, through the Liga Professional de Futbol, has the power to make these types of decision, Boca and River are a fundamental part of the sporting league and maintain that the two clubs should have been consulted throughout the process that led to this change of ownership of the television rights contract, and not just be informed of the final result.”