World soccer’s governing bodies FIFA and UEFA have appealed against a European ruling that the World Cup and European Championships must be on free-to-air TV in the UK. In February, the European Court ruled the UK could keep the events on a of “a protected list” of events shown for free.
It means the two tournaments cannot be sold exclusively to pay-TV firms. Because this rules out rights sales to pay-TV operators, FIFA and UEFA say they cannot sell the events fairly, and the cases will now go to the European Court of Justice.
The European courts have said the appeals processes is currently taking up to one-and-a-half years from start to finish, and that any actual hearing may not start for a year.
The BBC and ITV have secured the rights to broadcast the football World Cup finals in 2014 and any potential change of broadcasting towards a future pay-TV model would not take place until the 2018 event in Russia.
As well as the cases against the UK, FIFA has also launched an appeal against Belgium showing all World Cup games on free-to-air.
World Cup finals games featuring England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will remain free to watch, whatever the outcome; the argument is over other games.