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Uefa and Fifa hit the woodwork in free-to-air ruling

February 18, 2011 9:31 AM

The formally named European Court of First Instance, the European General Court (EGC), and part of the European Court of Justice yesterday ruled that all World Cup and European Championship football can remain on terrestrial television after governing bodies challenged the current set up.

In line with UK and European Law, both major football championships are designated as 'protected' events, meaning that all games must be broadcast on free-to-air channels. However, Fifa and Uefa had taken their case to the EGC, claiming that games not involving the home nations should be available to premium channel markets.

However, the court ruled that the UK government's decision to designate the entire World Cup and European Championships as a matter of national interest '[is] compatible with European law.'

South West MEP Graham Watson, who led a legal action by Euro-MPs over unfair ticket allocations in the 1998 World Cup, welcomed the news.

'Many football fans look forward to major tournaments not just to see their home nation, but to also enjoy watching teams from across the globe. In a multinational society, we must also embrace the fact that there are many citizens who support teams other than the home nations, or more than one team during a tournament. For Uefa and Fifa to potentially prevent people who may not be able to afford premium rate satellite and cable TV from watching the beautiful game on the world stage is wrong and I welcome the court's ruling.'