Mona El-Garf and Nasr El-Din Azzam
CAIRO – 10 May 2017: Cairo University's Faculty of Economics and Political Science hosted Tuesday a seminar entitled “anti-Monopoly in football matches broadcasting: on protecting the rights of the Egyptian citizen" featuring the chairperson of the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA), Mona El-Garf and Nasr El-Din Azzam, a lecturer of Sports Law at FIFA/CIES Sport Management Program at Cairo University.
The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) decided in January to refer the CAF’s then-President Issa Hyatou to be brought before the General Prosecution, accusing him of infringing the Protection of Competition Act and misusing his position to conduct monopoly practices.
The Qatari-based French-owned Lagardère Sports Agency was granted exclusive rights to broadcast the main African football competitions for the region from 2017 through to 2028 in an agreement signed with the CAF on June 15 2015, raising questions over the transparency of the bidding process.
The ECA commission found that the CAF committed violations of the regulations of fair competition and transparency between competitors instead of allowing them to win the broadcasting rights through a public auction.
The CAF had previously given the same rights to Lagardère Sports in 2009 until 2016, which means the agency has had sole broadcasting rights for 20 years.
Dr. El-Garf confirmed that the ECA proceeded with the legal action following a number of complaints delivered by the broadcasting company owners stating that the CAF refused their requests to do business.
"Since the CAF is an institution which carries out profit-driven activities and its headquarters is based in Egypt, the institution’s activities must abide by the Egyptian law and be subjected to the ECA's scrutiny." she added
"We previously addressed the CAF in a friendly way before we decided to take it to the courts because they didn't pay the slightest attention to us." Garf said.
She furthermore heavily stressed that such monopolization manipulates the Egyptian citizen and put him at the company’s hands, adding that they force him to pay hefty fees to watch his favorite short-lived competition.
"In addition to that, it forces the subscribers to ditch a satellite and take up another one, which may produce ideologies and ideas that might not agree with might be in conflict with with the Egyptian culture and traditions." El-Garf added.
Instead of using Egyptian satellite Nilesat, subscribers had to turn to satellite Sohail to watch BeIn Sports channels during the last African cup in Gabon, causing Nilesat direct economic deficits.
Garf concluded by stressing that she will keep on pressuring FIFA and CAF to overhaul the broadcasting deal with Lagardère Sports.
Azzam agreed with Garf that limiting people watching their most-loved football games to one channel goes against socially accepted football culture.
Azzam cited that the European Union endorses that everybody has the right to watch football games, preventing any EU state member from giving the rights of broadcasting the games of "national interest" to those locked, pay-per-view channels.
He also underlined the importance of regulating the process of the sports industry in Egypt, praising the newly-issued sports law, in an unprecedented move which he described as "overdue."