Global sports streaming platform DAZN and media giant Mediapro were awarded domestic and global rights to the top division of Spanish women’s soccer illegally, according to competition regulator the CNMC.

The authority stated that the deadlines stipulated in the Royal Decree-Law 5/2015 relating to the commercialization of rights had not been respected.

According to a letter published by Spanish outlet El Español, in a session held on September 27, 2022, the CNMC stated that the award had taken place "before the period of one month provided for in sections 3 and 5 of article 4 of Royal Decree-Law 5/2015."

For this reason, it decided not to issue any report on the marketing conditions of the audiovisual rights of the women's league, known as Liga F.

Last September, DAZN announced a five-year deal with the La Liga Profesional de Futbol Femenino (LPFF) body, to cover the Primera Division Femenina top-tier league in all territories in which it has a presence, including Spain, from the 2022-23 season through 2026-27.

DAZN has rights to stream every match from the 16-team league live, with seven out of the eight games per match week being covered exclusively.

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Mediapro holds rights to show one game per week free-to-air on its Gol channel.

The contract is valued at €7 million per year over five seasons.

The LPFF was required by law to request a report from the CNMC on the tender for television rights. Although this was not binding, it was mandatory.

The league did not have the authorization to issue a tender until it received a report from the competition regulator, which had a month to provide it.

Despite this process being breached by the LPFF, the Audiovisual Rights Control Body approved the tender in which the CSD, Spain’s Higher Sports Council, is present, although it was done without a vote. 

In its letter, the CNMC states that on August 23, 2022 "a letter presented by the Professional Women's Soccer League" was entered into the electronic registry.

Through this, the issuance of "a report on the conditions of joint marketing of the audiovisual rights of the clubs" was requested.

That same day, Liga F announced on its website "the opening of the process of joint commercialization of audiovisual rights," thus failing to comply with the term granted by Royal Decree-Law 5/2015 for the CNMC to prepare the report, the letter claims.

On September 5, less than two weeks later, Liga F announced the awarding of the different rights packages to DAZN and Mediapro.

As a result, the CNMC sent a request to the LPFF insisting that its tender process was "null and void" and urged the league to "cancel the award" of the contract to DAZN and Mediapro.

However, the league did not comply and has maintained its rights agreements.  

The issue could potentially turn into a legal matter with the CSD if it decides to act.

The LPFF was established by the RFEF in 2021 before the professionalization of women’s club soccer in the country at the start of this season. While the organization sits as part of the RFEF, it enjoys full autonomy over decisions, like LaLiga.

Under professionalization laws in Spain, the RFEF handed over the organization of the league to LPFF and clubs now have the right to manage commercial and broadcasting rights, as well as their income.

Image: Eric Alonso/Getty Images