AFA frustrated as Fox free to continue showing LPF
Fox Sports Latin America, the pay-television broadcaster, looks set to continue televising matches from Argentinian soccer's top-tier Liga Profesional de Futbol (LPF) this weekend after a judge in Buenos Aires rejected an appeal by the Argentine Football Association.
The AFA had appealed against the decision earlier this month to overturn the federation's scrapping of the domestic rights contract with Fox.
However judge Horacio Robledo, in the capital's Commercial Court, rejected the AFA's appeal against the precautionary measure that allows Fox to continue broadcasting the matches of the LPF.
The case now looks set to go before the Appeals Chamber and could eventually end up at the country's Supreme Court.
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in a five-year, 17.5 billion pesos ($226 million) agreement that came into effect in 2017-18, but the competition has been replaced by the new LPF for the 2020-21 campaign.
AFA took its decision on the grounds that Fox had not provided sufficient notice of its absorption by Walt Disney-owned ESPN, and had expected Turner to buy the remaining 50 per cent of the rights it does not own.
However, Turner, wanting to maintain good relations with Fox, has rejected that opportunity.Fox is understood to be particularly angered at the AFA's actions as it and Turner both continued to make rights payments even when the league was suspended earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Bolivia Fernando Costa, the new president of the FBF, the national soccer federation, said he will consider all proposals when it comes to a new domestic media rights deal.
A clubs meeting in La Paz is slated for next Tuesday.
Costa, who was elected last weekend, said: “I understand that it is an interest within the Professional Division to address the issue and we will listen to all proposals. In a personal opinion, we are going to try to ensure that the people who seek to claim these rights are the ones who make the best economic proposal, we are living in a deep financial crisis, especially the clubs, and we need to have those resources.”
Costa was previously president of the Always Ready club in the top-tier División Profesional, which were part of the G8, a group of eight clubs that had written to interim FBF president Marcos Rodriguez demanding that a media rights proposal from Turner be considered.
The G8 were later joined by the G6, the other teams in the top division, in calling for Turner's offer to be discussed.
As well as the long-term deal in Argentina, Turner holds domestic soccer rights in Brazil and owns Canal del Fútbol, the Chilean soccer broadcaster that shows the national league.
The G6 had earlier this year formed 'Unidos por el Fútbol' ('United for Soccer'), as they sought to control their own rights and vowed not to participate in the collective FBF tender.
The six clubs wanted to proceed with a deal worth a reported $100 million over 10 years with Marcelo Claure, owner of Bolivar, but the FBF rejected that offer, claiming it did not want to sell its rights for such a long period of time.
Domestic rights for the next cycle remain unsold, even though in August, the SportTV Rights agency retained rights to the top two divisions and the Copa Simón Bolívar, the knockout cup competition, from 2021 to 2024, having seen off competition from Bolivian telco Telecel and GolTV, the Latin American pay-TV broadcaster.
SportTV Rights agreed to pay a total of $46.5 million over the course of the contract, compared with the $4.1 million per season it pays at present.
However, the contract was cancelled after the second constitutional court of Santa Cruz de la Sierra ruled that the successor to Cesar Salinas, the deceased FBF president, was wrongly elected, and thus all subsequent decisions were deemed null and void.
The court sided with FBF vice-president Robert Blanco in ruling that Rodriguez should not have been installed as federation president on 23 July.Salinas died on 19 July after contracting Covid-19 and, according to the FBF's statutes of 2017, the first vice-president, in this instance Blanco, should have taken the helm.
Changes to the statutes in 2019, which would have ensured Rodriguez was eligible for the presidency were never officially implemented, the court ruled.
Rodriguez, however, long insisted that the Sport TV Rights contract should stand as all necessary procedures were adhered to.