German soccer’s DFL league body has refuted claims by global streaming service DAZN that the DFL has violated competition laws in its domestic media rights tender process, which it has had to temporarily halt over the dispute.

The league welcomed bids for its next four-year cycle of domestic rights from 2025-26 to 2028-29 on Monday (April 15) but faced the accusation from DAZN after the first round of the sales auction.

In a letter to the DFL, which was obtained by German outlet Bild, the OTT platform, one of the league’s main two incumbent domestic rightsholders for live action (alongside Sky Deutschland), claimed its bid for Package B in the tender was rejected despite submitting “the most financially attractive and convincing offer.”

The letter, signed by DAZN chief executive Shay Segev, goes on to state: “We were led to believe that our financial offer was significantly higher than any other offer.

“We have no other explanation for this uneconomic behavior than that the DFL management had already anticipated the result in order to illegally award rights Package B to its preferred bidder and deprive the member clubs of their share of the additional income from the DAZN offer without conducting another round of bidding.”

Package B, one of four reserved for pay-TV broadcasters only, includes matches played on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. It is made up of a total of 196 per season and is regarded as the most attractive package on offer.

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DAZN believed it placed the largest offer and expected to secure the rights as the DFL tender stipulates that a bidder will be awarded the contract immediately if its offer meets the minimum requirement and is at least 20% higher than the second-best offer.

In its letter to the DFL, which was sent to co-CEOs Steffen Merkel and Marc Lenz, as well as all 36 clubs in the top two divisions in Germany, DAZN was also critical of the league for demanding a bank guarantee at short notice.

The DFL can demand a bank guarantee from bidders according to the tender documents and did so with DAZN, but the platform said it already explained in its tender document that it would provide a “hard letter of comfort” – as it claimed it did in the previous tender.

According to DAZN, this was accepted by the DFL, but the league demanded “a very specific bank guarantee from DAZN within 24 hours” which it described as “an impossible task.”

In a statement to Sportcal (GlobalData Sport), DAZN said: “DAZN has concerns with elements of the process and has raised these issues directly with the DFL. DAZN remains committed to delivering value for the Bundesliga, its member clubs, and their fans. We will not comment further on this topic at this stage.”

The claims by DAZN have been denied by the DFL, however, which today told Sportcal (GlobalData Sport): “The DFL has not made any errors in the procedure regarding the current auction process. DAZN’s allegations are inaccurate and are rejected by the DFL. As per the binding confidentiality rules agreed upon by all parties, including DAZN, the DFL will make no further comment at this time.”

The league will now discuss the matter with the Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office which approved the tender in February.

The tender was issued to interested parties after the cartel office officially ratified the scrapping of the no single-buyer rule, which has been in place for the best part of a decade.

In terms of the specific tender packages on offer, four of the live rights packages (which can now be sold to a single buyer, although this is not compulsory) are for pay-TV, two are technology-neutral covering the second-tier Bundesliga 2, and one is for free-to-air rights to at least nine live games across the whole portfolio (from both leagues, the Supercup, and the post-season relegation playoffs).

The rights lots will in total cover 617 matches per season, while there are also three audio rights packages on offer, as well as one covering ‘digital out of home.’

In the current 2021-22 to 2024-25 rights cycle, domestic live rights to Bundesliga action are shared between pay-TV giant Sky Deutschland, DAZN, ProSiebenSat.1, and Sport1. These deals are worth, in total, around €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) annually, with the league seeking to retain this value for the next deal.

In addition, new highlights rights packages have also been created, that can be used as early as each Monday following the weekend’s action. One of these will focus on digital platforms, including the broadcasting of 90-second clips.

This is added onto the pay-TV rights for highlight clips following the final whistle from all matches, while there may also be opportunities during the next cycle for social media clips to be posted during games.