UEFA distributed €3 billion last season (2022-23) to its members from revenue it gains from the sale of media rights, but this seemingly healthy pot is at risk while piracy remains rampant. In the same period, it issued 1.8 million take-down notices to illegal content-sharing sites. 

Diego Dabrio, Senior Anti-Piracy Expert at UEFA, said: “If piracy is not tackled the whole football ecosystem is at risk. Not just our commercial model but the solidarity across the game and in all corners. That is why we take piracy very seriously.” 

Tackling piracy

(l-r) Chris White, Operations Director, FriendMTS, and Diego Dabrio, Senior Anti-Piracy Expert at UEFA 

Dabrio was speaking at the invitation of video content protection technology partner Friend MTS. The company and UEFA work together to pre-empt and prevent piracy most critically in and around matchday. Fingerprint verification and blocking orders are two weapons in the defence.  

“Blocking orders are a powerful weapon when fighting piracy in real time but are often like putting a sticking plaster over the problem,” Dabrio said. “There is no single system that is 100% effective that can kill all piracy.” 

The biggest challenge is the legal framework which he said makes it unnecessarily hard for UEFA to tackle illegal restreaming of live match content.  

“It is leading to great frustration,” he admitted. “While detection mechanisms to identify content have got increasingly sophisticated there is no practical way to end piracy during the live window in law. We have the opportunity to put a lot of solid data in front of the European Commission. We are saying to them that you cannot cooperate with someone [such as an ISP] that ignores our takedown notices every day.” 

Stand Number: 1.BS12 

Company: Friend MTS