Spanish soccer’s RFEF body has restarted the tender process to select a supplier of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) services for the 2024-28 cycle while making a key alteration to the search.
After having to cancel an initial invitation to tender (ITT) – issued in March – three months ago, the RFEF has now restarted the process but has decided this time to split it into two separate lots. One covers VAR services themselves, with another covering semi-automatic technology to determine offsides during games.
The deadline for the submission of offers is November 24, with the contracts planned to last for four seasons, from the beginning of 2024-25 to the end of 2027-28.
The current partner for the RFEF when it comes to VAR services is UK-based technology firm Hawk-Eye, which has been in place since 2019.
The initial tender (for a cycle due to run from the start of the ongoing 2023-24 until the end of 2026-27) was canceled amid the Spanish soccer federation’s ongoing legal dispute with sports rights and production company Mediapro.
In April, the Madrid Commercial Court suspended the tender process as a precautionary measure due to a long-running legal battle between Mediapro and the RFEF.
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Mediapro had argued – arguments which the court agreed with – that previous tenders for similar services carried out by the RFEF had been anti-competitive, and that the federation had deliberately excluded Mediapro from consideration.
The RFEF was ordered to pay damages of €2.1 million ($2.4 million) to Mediapro in March 2022 over the award of a contract to provide VAR services for the top two domestic leagues in Spain in 2019 (which led to Hawk-Eye's appointment).
On that occasion, the Madrid Commercial Court found that the governing body was guilty of an “abuse of a dominant position” when it awarded the contract for VAR services to Hawk-Eye for four seasons from 2019-20. That has subsequently been extended through the ongoing 2023-24 campaign, in light of the original tender’s cancelation.
Hawk-Eye won the contract despite Mediapro submitting a more lucrative financial offer, with the RFEF claiming it chose the UK firm due to its experience.
In January last year, meanwhile, a judge ruled that Mediapro was unlawfully excluded from a 2019 RFEF tender process for VAR services across Spain's Copa del Rey knockout competition.
The RFEF was also ordered to pay compensation to the production firm in that case.
In July, Mediapro accused the RFEF of a cover-up by extending its Hawk-Eye deal for another year after the original tender was canceled.
In terms of the newly-issued tender, although VAR and semi-automatic offsides have been issued in two separate lots, all VAR bidders must specify which semi-automatic offside systems their technology is compatible with.