Sport and digital era : opportunity or threat ?

On 28 October, Sport and Citizenship took part in the online webinar “Challenges of sports events’ organisers in the digital environment” organised by Tomasz Frankowski, member of the European Parliament and Co-Chair of its Sport Group.. It was an interesting opportunity to discuss and hear about a relatively new and harmful issue: the threats around online sport transmission and the illegal broadcasting of sport events with an emphasis on the accentuation of piracy and illegal actors on the streaming panorama. 



Per Stromback moderated the debate between Krisztina Stump (Deputy Head of Copyright Unit, European Commission), Bogdan Ciinaru (Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition, Europol), Mark Lichtenhein (Chairman, Sports rights Owners Coalition), Erlinda Tabla (VP Head of Legal, Eurosport/Global Sports), Andrew Moger (Executive Director, New Media Coalition) and Seong Sin Han (Chief Counsel, Commercial and Technology Legal Services, UEFA).


Commissioner Mariya Gabriel opened the discussion underlying the achievements the Commission has reached so far :

  • Despite the pandemic, Erasmus+ Sport doubled the number of applications received in 2020
  • The European Week of Sport with an unprecedented online format raised the attention on the importance of being active at home
  • New horizontal measures were put into practice to guarantee more flexibility and efficient exchanges of good practices among sport stakeholders
  • The follow up of the Tartu Call with further engagement an deeper engagement on health.

Commissioner Gabriel closed her intervention by sharing the necessity to reinforce intellectual rights at European level to preserve intellectual rights’ owners when it comes to sport and online transmission. Per Stroback used Commission Gabriel’s speech as a hook to debate on illegal broadcasting and the role of sport institutions in the fight against piracy. Erlinda Tabla stressed the fact that the legal market of broadcasting is spreading over time: fees are increasing, and collaborations are now more complex than before. This leads  to the segmentation of rights and thus to more complexity. The size and regulation of the digital environment open infinite possibilities for illegal broadcasting and web-pirates (mostly coordinated by criminal organisations) which provide the same contents on a non-regulated and illegal based. Europol, UEFA, and the European Commission invested millions of euros to monitor the illegal broadcasting panorama to set up tailored strategies to overcome the issue.

Piracy and illegal broadcasting are dangerous not only because they do not respect the rules, but also because they represent a threat for consumers. In Europe, sport and especially football are a fertile ground for these illegal practices. With this regard, Mark Lichtenhein envisaged the need for providing sport right holders with the right tools to remove infringing contents immediately, in a “business-to-business” schema.


Sport et citoyenneté