Johannesburg – Bad news, football fans: contract battles will keep the beautiful game from your screens from a while.
The governing body for soccer in Africa, the Confederation of African Football has cancelled its media and marketing rights agreement with French company, Lagardère Sports and Entertainment.
The impact has been felt across the world but nowhere more so than in Africa.
As the first round of the qualifying games for CAF’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations got underway, millions of fans were dismayed to learn that the games were blacked out on TV screens and radio stations.
The same applied to CAF’s Africa U-23 tournament in Egypt. The Africa Cup of Nations is widely watched on the continent and around the world. The 2012 version co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon was reportedly watched by 6.6 billion viewers.
The tournament is so popular that the BBC covered the 2019 final in 13 languages.
The 12-year media and marketing contract between Lagardère and CAF was hailed by many as significant when it was signed in 2015.
It upped the commercial value of the African game, the rights reportedly going for about $1 billion for a period until 2028. But it almost immediately ran into problems.
In 2017, The Egyptian Competition Authority ruled that the contract was anti-competitive because it wasn’t based on an open bidding process.
And then, the Economic Court in Cairo took on the matter. Egypt’s Economic Courts, often staffed by three-judge panels who are considered specialists in the case, are designed to rule quickly on commercial cases.
The court confirmed, in November 2018, that CAF did not open the rights acquisition to competitive bidding. The deal with Lagardère was deemed unlawful and CAF officials were fined. — Africareport.com