Football on TV: a ruling gives Fox Sports the reason again

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Judge Horacio Robledo’s ruling rejects the AFA’s arguments to break the contract.

After the AFA decided to unilaterally break the contract with Fox Sports Latin America (FSLA), Justice upholds the right of the television station, which since last year is owned by Disney, to continue with the link. This Wednesday, without going any further, the judge Horacio Robledo, in charge of Commercial Court 24, secretariat No. 48, rejected a presentation by the football mother company against the precautionary measure that allows FSLA to continue broadcasting the matches of the Professional Football League (LPF) as the owner of 50% of audiovisual rights. The next instance will be in the Appeals Chamber. There, there could be a definition. Or will the litigation end in the Supreme Court of the Nation? For now, everything remains the same. The twelve First Division matches will be broadcast on TNT Sports and Fox Sports, in equal parts.

The 19-page resolution highlights that the arguments presented by the AFA are far from agreeing with him. Viamonte’s lawyers maintain that Fox Sports did not communicate the merger with Disney and that enables the entity to terminate the existing link.

The magistrate dismissed this argument and the ruling cites Fox Sports’ argument on the matter: “The unanimous rejection of the AFA Executive Committee of the proposals made to extend the term of the contract to the 2027/2030 seasons, does not influence on the circumstance that Messrs. Tapia and Tinelli acted on behalf of the AFA and the LPF, formulating proposals to TWDC (Disney) officials, highlighting that the unanimity referred to denotes the lack of words and commitment of Mr. Tapia, who he is part of that Committee ”.

The reference has to do with the parallel negotiations that took place between Marcelo Tinelli and Claudio Tapia, presidents of the LPF and the AFA, with the authorities of the Mickey Mouse chain to renegotiate the contract and get a juicy raise. Yes: while on the one hand they wanted to end the bond, on the other they sat down to listen to what they had to propose from Disney.

The AFA believed that Turner would buy the 50% owned by FSLA and keep 100% of the rights. Everything closed. However, Tapia’s papers were burned when Turner refused to buy the corresponding share from Fox Sports. And it was not an economic issue because the company is a global giant and is publicly traded. It happens that in the United States there is commercial loyalty. Turner and Disney are partners on some projects. In no way were they going to betray each other. Much less, for Argentine soccer.

So much so that Turner’s negotiator was fired when the talks, which had advanced steadily, were interrupted. The executive did not notify the US parent company that the rights were being shared with Disney and for them it was unforgivable.

That is why Tapia listened to the Disney authorities, who wanted to improve the offer. Is it true that there was a strong cross between Chiqui and one of the managers? Is it true that there is a company linked to the Government willing to pay the millions that the AFA wants to take over football? It would be a wink for there to be games televised on the public channel. In La Rosada they assure that it will not be Soccer For All, but there will be between two and three meetings per date.

This would be an option in the event that the AFA manages to unblock the impediment to terminate the contract that binds Fox Sports. If Turner doesn’t buy the 50% in dispute, which holding company will? A serious possibility would call for bids.

There is another situation that contemplates the Robledo ruling. It clearly indicates that the two channels in charge of broadcasting the matches continued to pay the amount corresponding to the current contract even with the screen turned off. TNT and Fox Sports / Disney complied with the agreed payments, despite the fact that soccer was stopped by the pandemic and the isolation implemented by President Alberto Fernández.

While the AFA and FSLA / Disney fight in Justice, the clubs await definitions. Their weak economies, largely due to leadership management, depend on the income of TV and partners. At least that’s how they held up during the long stand. Now the ball was rolling again, but the thread never stopped spinning.



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