NBT, the main state-owned broadcaster in Thailand, secured an 11th hour deal to show soccer’s European Championships, facilitated by a local businessman.
Italy’s 3-0 win over Turkey in the tournament opener on Friday was shown on the NBT2 channel after prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gave the go-ahead for the broadcaster to televise the tournament.
Anucha Nakasai, the prime minister’s office minister, revealed on Friday that businessman Komol Jungrungreangkit had bought the rights to Euro 2020 in Thailand in a late deal with continental governing body Uefa worth around THB 300 million ($9.6 million).
Jungrungreangkit then passed the rights over to the government to allow NBT to broadcast the games.
NBT will now be showing the entire tournament through to the final on 11 July.
Jungrungreangkit is the chairman of the Pinehurst Golf Club in the Thai province of Pathum Thani and also owns the Summit Footwear brand, as well as being the majority shareholder of industrial waste management company Better World Green.
Nakasai said prime minister Chan-o-cha tasked him with finding a solution for Euro 2020 after no private broadcaster had secured the rights, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As well as the opener on Friday, fans in Thailand were able to watch the six matches over the weekend, including England vs Croatia, Belgium vs Russia and the Netherlands vs Ukraine, with three more fixtures to be played today.
Euro 2020, delayed from last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, is taking place in 11 cities across Europe, with Wembley Stadium in London to stage the semi-finals and final.