CAF under fire over delay of 2019 AFCON TV rights

 CAF under fire over delay of 2019 AFCON TV rights

As the 2019 Africa Nations Cup draw takes place today in Cairo, the Confederation of Africa Football is under pressure, as the body is yet to resolve the issue of TV rights for the football fiesta.

Surprisingly, as the excitement builds up for the tournament billed for June, millions of African fans were still not sure whether the competition would be showcased on free TV.

Couple of weeks ago, a tender was issued for an agency to manage CAF’s free-to-air rights in Africa, starting with AFCON 2019, in a move that signalled an end to Lagardere’s hold on these rights.

Lagardere and its associate, LC2 apparently taking a back seat in the televising of the forthcoming AFCON. This followed widespread reports of alleged malpractice involving Lagardere and former CAF president, Issa Hayatou.

Just when it seemed that CAF was finally put its house in order, bringing transparency to its dealings in lucrative TV rights, it appeared that it may be business as usual, regarding the sale of its TV rights, according to the findings of broadcasters with knowledge of live transmission.

“It is a huge surprise that the TV rights issue has not been solved and with the draw coming up soon, broadcasters are not sure of who to talk to on the transmission of AFCON matches. This is unusual and it suggests that all is not well with the process this time,” a broadcaster said.

Stakeholders had continued to raise eyebrow over the delay by the Confederation of African Football in taking a decision on the TV rights for the apex football competition.

It was learnt that the public service broadcasters of Africa were currently united under the AUB and had pre-empted the usual exorbitant fees by offering to pay a generous amount to CAF in order to deliver the best of African football to African fans.

Also, the AUB had taken on a number of technical partners, each of whom had achieved excellence in its field.

In the current tender process around the free-to-air CAF rights, the adviser to CAF President, Hedi Hemel and his connections to Infront Media – who some were labelling “the New Lagardere,” could be a key determinant of where the pendulum goes.

Hemel’s claims that the AUB lacked the requisite technical ability were without substance in regards to the AUB of 2019. Furthermore, it was interesting to note that Infront, whilst supporting Hemel’s claims, had paradoxically stated that should they be awarded the rights they too would be working with the AUB.

Ayomide Oyewole

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