Pirate football rampant on Facebook Live

Dozens of Spanish and Latin American Facebook pages are illegally streaming top-flight football matches free of charge using the social network’s video-sharing facility Facebook Live, according to a report in Spanish newspaper El Pais. Through a combination of links and profiles that disappear as soon as the match is finished, these pirate broadcasts are seen by hundreds of thousands of fans.

On December 3rd, Barcelona hosted Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium, traditionally one of the biggest matches of the year in Spain, and watched by fans around the globe. For the first time, the game was broadcast in the 4K format using super zoom, 360-degree cameras, and was watched by more than 600 million people in 185 countries. beIN Sports, a spin-off of the Al Jazeera network, retransmitted the game in Spain, estimating an audience of 2.2 million. But the transmission was pirated via Facebook Live, reaching many more on sites such as Capitanes del Fútbol, which at one point was being watched by 700,000 people simultaneously, and which had, by half time, clocked up 4.6 million views. Sites like Capitanes del FútbolPlaneta Fútbol and Fútbol Directo Honduras, among many others, get around Facebook’s rules by advertising pages that transmit games illegally and then providing links to them. These sites create a network of intermediary profiles that redirect to other sites that have tapped into the broadcast and are illegally transmitting it. Once the game is over, the network of pages closes down; sometimes it is created for a single match. The sites then return to being seemingly innocuous pages dedicated to soccer news and gossip. These sites are directed mainly at a Spanish-speaking public, particularly in Latin America. Most of the time they tap into beIN Sports Ñ channel, which can be subscribed to in the United States. Although it cannot be proved that they are part of the same network, the main pirate sites and the temporary pages have similar names: Capis TV, Capitanes TV2, El tío Capi, Rincón Futbolero, etc.

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