European football’s governing body UEFA has welcomed the anti-piracy operation in Italy conducted by the Guardia di Finanza and coordinated by the Naples Public Prosecutor’s Office. The operation that lasted over a week has seen more than 600 illegal platforms blocked, which were unlawfully making available UEFA Euro 2020 matches.
The Guardia di Finanza is primarily responsible for dealing with financial crime and smuggling in Italy. Outlets or groups running the pirate services now risk imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine of up to €15,493; while end-users will automatically receive a significant administrative fine for an amount of up to €1,032. UEFA expressed their satisfaction with this initiative in an official statement.
“UEFA welcomes and supports the ‘Euro Strike 2020’ anti-piracy operation which has been undertaken by the Guardia di Finanza and coordinated by the Naples Public Prosecutor’s Office. We would like to thank everyone involved for their efforts in fighting audiovisual piracy.”
Meanwhile, CEO of UK pro-copyright body FACT, Kieron Sharp has backed this initiative to disrupt illegal activity. Euro 2020 are in great demand and blocking access to illegal streams sends a threat to the fans about the seriousness of the issue. Law enforcement will issue fines and this should be a wake-up call for illegal streamers. Piracy will continue to be a serious crime that helps criminals fill their pockets and disrupts the legitimate economy. Organizations like FACT should continue to monitor channels used to advertise, market, sell and distribute apps, devices, and streams, to act against suppliers and operators.
Financial revenue generated from media rights sales is vital for the wellbeing of football, both professional and amateur, and in particular football development and grassroots investment throughout Europe. It is important to protect broadcasters for the good of the game including by bringing actions such as this against pirates.
Since the UEFA Euro tournament staged in 2004, UEFA has made €2.6 billion available to its member associations through its HatTrick program, with the vast majority of funding coming from the sale of media rights.