Globo cancels Carioca Championship contract amid escalating Flamengo dispute

Brazilian commercial broadcaster Globo has cancelled its contract with the Carioca State Championship amid an escalating conflict with Flamengo over the Rio de Janeiro-based club’s broadcast rights.

Globo has said that it will continue with its payments for the 2020 season, but that it has now cancelled its agreement after Flamengo broadcast its match on Wednesday night against Boavista on its own platforms.

As a result, Globo has taken the decision to not broadcast a single match from this season’s Carioca State Championships, ending its deal with the Rio de Janeiro State Football Federation (FERJ) and the clubs. The broadcaster held rights to the Carioca State Championship with 11 of the competition’s 12 teams – Flamengo being the sole outlier.

Flamengo had been dogged in its plans to broadcast its state league matches on its FlaTV channel in the wake of a decree introduced by Brazilian president Jair Bolsanaro.

The law placed a club’s media rights in its own hands in the event that it does not hold a broadcast deal. The decree was to be in place for a period of 120 days from when it was handed down (June 19) and is yet to be ratified by the Brazilian congress.

Globo said in a statement: “According to the contract, Globo had exclusivity in the transmission of the games of the Carioca Championship. The Federation and eleven clubs signed the commitment. The exception was Flamengo. At the time of signing and for several seasons in which the contract was fulfilled, Brazilian law provided that, for the transmission of any match, it was necessary to obtain rights of the two clubs involved.

“Legally, no one could broadcast Flamengo’s games in the Carioca Championship and only Globo could broadcast the others. On June 18, the presidency of the [Brazilian] Republic issued a Provisional Measure 984, passing the rights of transmission to the game manager.

The statement continued: “Flamengo relied on this provisional measure to broadcast its match yesterday [Thursday] at the Maracanã. Globo understands that the Provisional Measure could not change a contract concluded before its edition and protected by the Constitution.

“As the Rio de Janeiro State Football Federation and the other clubs were not able to guarantee the exclusivity provided in the contract, Globo had no alternative other than the termination and closure of the broadcasts of Carioca games – including the three games today that end the fifth round of the Rio Cup and that would be shown on [pay-television broadcaster] SporTV and [pay-per-view service] Premiere.”

Globo has maintained throughout the escalating conflict that it views the decree as a violation of its contracted rights.

The broadcaster had sought a legal deterrence against Flamengo in the form of a R$2m (€332,000/$373,000) penalty payment, though its application was denied by the Justice Tribunal of the State of Rio de Janeiro.

The case’s judge ruled at the time that it was “not up to this court to examine the possible consequences” of the Brazilian government’s provisional decree. This ultimately cleared the way for Flamengo to broadcast the match in any way it saw fit.

By broadcasting the match on FlaTV across a range of social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, UOL reported that the Flamengo-Boavista match set a viewing figures record in Brazil of 2.2 million simultaneous streams.

The figures bettered those registered for the Copa Libertadores clash between Internacional and Gremio earlier this year.

The Flamengo-Boavista match on Wednesday was also broadcast internationally in a deal with streaming platform MyCujoo. Matches were offered to fans outside Brazil on a pay-per-view basis.

Globo is the dominant broadcaster of domestic Brazilian football, holding free-to-air and pay-per-view rights to all 20 Campeonato Serie A clubs and pay-television rights of 12 Serie A clubs. US broadcaster Turner pay-television rights to the remaining eight clubs.