News

UEFA to Stop Illegal Streaming of Football Matches

By Novak Bozovic / December 28, 2017

Following the example of English Premier League, UEFA seeks to end illegal streaming of football matches in the Champions League and Europa League for good.

It all started back in early March when English Premier League won the same court order. Heads of the highest ranking football competition in England were happy to get a permit to block the servers enabling the streams. The problems for them began with the growing popularity of Kodi and its third-party add-ons.

Although Kodi box is a completely legal piece of equipment you can obtain, a large number of users still tend to install shady plugins that cause these copyright infringements in the first place.

Many people took advantage of this loophole to sell "pre-loaded" Kodi boxes to pub owners. Pubs could then easily stream football matches with a much better fit to their pocket. Since the UK court granted the league permission to crack down on this illegal activity, several arrests have been made.

How Can UEFA Block Illegal Streaming?

With UEFA winning this court order, it will have the clearance to instruct all the major UK internet service providers to do the blockage for them. Rather than shutting down various streaming websites, they will be able to directly target server signals. By hitting the source like this, they believe it will have a substantial effect on wiping out the live streams.

UEFA Champions League

As to how this anti-piracy method exactly works is not completely known. Little to no information can be ascertained because the league wants to keep it a secret. They are afraid that if the technology behind this illegal stream crackdown got discovered, pirates would soon find a way to bypass it.

Order to be Put in Play in March 2018

For now, the blockage is only in power when the Premier League matches are playing. In only two months, over 5,000 IP addresses were blocked during this year's season. Blocking order was renewed for the entirety of 2017/2018 season as well. We can only assume that with UEFA getting their permission to do the same, it will provide similar results.

UEFA Headquarters

The single difference between the two cases includes "an additional safeguard" that is supposed to avert over-blocking. This is to prevent errors where some servers can get incorrectly blocked.

Other than that, it's pretty much the same scenario. Since the Premier League was already awarded this high court blocking order, it was hard to imagine judge Justice Arnold denying UEFA's request. Naturally, this court order has an expiry date. It begins on March 13th and ends on the date when the Champions League season finishes - May 26th. This will cover all the major matches from the quarter-finals all the way to the big final.

Final Thoughts

Why this is happening in the first place is not hard to grasp. Nowadays, it's pretty simple to find and obtain illegal streaming of football matches. With various software, such as Kodi for example, this became easy but also illegal.

When people started turning away from paying for sports TV packages, broadcast rights took a hit. That's why football associations and TV companies that pay them broadcast privileges, work together in fighting illegal football matches streaming, thus keeping their profits. It's yet another case of pay-TV and free streaming services battling against each other. How far this will go it's anybody's guess. It is expected that other leagues from different sports take the same action.

If you're a sports fan and would like to discuss this topic, feel free to leave a comment below. We always like to hear what you have to say.



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