Argentina’s cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández said football transmission should be free because it is not only a national passion but an industry that generates many jobs and activity.
The Argentine national premier league, which should take off this Friday, has been suspended because of clubs debts with players and the Argentine government is becoming increasingly involved in the controversy.
The private transmission of football games “is a topic that should be discussed by the holders of the licence (T y C Sports) with the Argentine football Association, AFA, because we (the government) have nothing to do with the contract said Fernandez.
T y C Sports who have the Argentine football exclusive transmission rights claim that during the weekend President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, her husband Nestor Kirchner and the president of AFA Julio Grondona met to consider the current situation and the possibility of a 500 million pesos loan for the league to begin.
There was no meeting, no offer. We look at the football situation because football is not only a passion but also an industry which generates many jobs, Fernández added.
Asked whether the government was interested in buying the contract for football games transmissions, he answered: No. The government is interested in other points.
The Cabinet Chief explained that the Argentine government claims the concept of ‘Football, passion for the masses', and added that in this country, there is a total of 4200 clubs and 200 leagues connected together, which generate shows of a very high quality, very popular, and which became a huge business.
Those clubs are not doing well, because of this huge business side. Every day, they are closer to the abyss, he emphasized, before adding: I have no doubt that, in a short term, all the leagues will die. Not one will be left, as the people working for them. But, paradoxically, those who exploit this business keep on gaining huge income.
Football is dying, but instead of trying to revive it, making it strong and healthy, the businessmen behind football try to make people think the State should pay for it. This is crazy!”, he said.
According to Fernández, the AFA and the TV channels have to solve this problem. The AFA needs to put things as they should be, “not the State, he reiterated. That same way, severe sanctions should be required against clubs and partners who don't perform good fund management, punishing directly the executives,” he concluded.
The AFA decided there would be no tournament until the clubs pay all their debts: salaries to players, taxes... The TyC Sports channel's president (whose channel transmits the Argentine football league) said it was all a trick and that a secret agreement had been decided between the State and the AFA to see public TV winning the rights of football TV transmissions. TV transmissions generate millions in advertisement.
However there’s an additional political twist to the issue. T y C Sports belongs to the multimedia group headed by Argentina’s daily with the largest circulation Clarin which for the Kirchners has become a “committed enemy” of their administrations.
Buenos Aires press reports indicate that according to the “Grondona-Kirchner” pact, the Argentine state would be willing to pay 500/600 million pesos (160 million US dollars) for transmitting premier league football games this (delayed) season.
Apparently T y C Sports president Marcelo Bombau refused to advance more than the 70 million US dollars already agreed with the Argentine football teams for this season.
If the government gets hold of the contract (which legally expires in 2014) the transmission would be through a government channel and a private television station which is closely aligned with the ruling Kirchner couple.