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Mediapro claims latest win in Spain’s long-running ‘football war’

The Provincial Court of Madrid has ordered media company Prisa to pay the Mediapro agency €51m ($57.7m) in compensation following the latest development in the long-running ‘football war’ over rights to LaLiga, the top division of the domestic game.

The court order concerns damages to Mediapro for the interim measures Prisa applied for to the Court of First Instance No. 36 in Madrid, and which the Court granted in October 2007, prohibiting Mediapro from exploiting the media rights of football clubs to which it was the rights-holder. The Provincial Court in Madrid revoked these measures in July 2008.

Mediapro said in a statement: “The sentence reconfirms the good name of Mediapro in what became known as ‘the football war’ and the illegality of Prisa’s claims, which, after almost 10 years of litigation, have been penalised by the courts time and time again.

“The sentence establishes that the interim measures applied by Court 36 allowed Prisa to exploit rights owned by Mediapro, thus depriving Mediapro of exploitation rights and incurring damages amounting to €51m.”

The circumstances surrounding the case date back to August 2007, when Prisa accused Mediapro of breach of contract and cut access to its client’s signal for football matches and subsequent broadcast distribution and international distribution.

Prisa claimed that Mediapro was not independently entitled to enter into contracts with football clubs, a claim that the agency openly criticised as contrary to competition laws.

The two parties have been engaged in lengthy legal battles over the case. In July 2017, the Court of First Instance No. 37 of Barcelona rejected the case brought by Prisa by which it sought to overturn a ruling made by the Supreme Court in January 2015, which stated that the model of football rights exploitation used by Prisa breached fair competition rules.