Euro Football

Offside trap: Uefa in bid to stop illegal streaming of matches


Football fans using so-called “dodgy boxes” to watch Champions League matches face a clampdown as the game’s administrative body in Europe plans to seek orders compelling internet service providers to block illegal streams.

efa has issued proceedings in Dublin which will come before the fast-track commercial wing of the High Court on Tuesday.

The move follows earlier applications by the English Premier League, which successfully secured blocking orders in respect of its games earlier this year and in 2019.

The Uefa application is against internet service providers Eir, Sky, Vodafone and Virgin Media.

Uefa did not respond to a request for comment, while the firm representing it in Ireland, Acuatus, said it could not discuss the issue.

However, it is understood the reliefs sought will be similar to those secured by the Premier League.

The difference is they would cover Champions League, Europa League and international matches.

They would require internet service providers to block and disrupt servers that host illegal streams of matches.

Technology allows blocking to occur in real time during matches and can target websites, apps and set-top boxes.

Illegal streaming is thought to have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, undermining multi-billion euro television rights deals.

The apparent upsurge in piracy has coincided with greater fragmentation of broadcast rights.

Sports fans who wish to follow football and rugby need to hold a number of subscriptions.

However, it is not clear just how prevalent illegal streaming is in Ireland.

It is expected that Uefa will have to be able to demonstrate to the court that any blocking activity does not interrupt legitimate streaming services.

The effectiveness of the measures is also likely to be a factor in whether the court grants the reliefs sought.

In the Premier League application earlier this year, Jianjun Chen, an employee of Sky UK Ltd, gave affidavit evidence that target servers blocked by Sky pursuant to an earlier order “prevented a high volume of unauthorised live streams of matches” in Ireland.

The total number of target servers blocked was not disclosed in open court as it was considered commercially sensitive.

Irish Independent

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Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport.