Time for the Internet revolution

Here in Israel we have it easy. Any fan of local soccer who misses a match on pay-per-view need not fear.

soccer 88 (photo credit: )
soccer 88
(photo credit: )
Here in Israel we have it easy. Any fan of the local Premier League of soccer who misses any of the matches broadcast on the absolutely fairly priced pay-per-view channel need not fear. Highlights of each and every game in what many consider one of the finest soccer leagues on the globe are readily available each week on the Sport 5 Web site. Supporters of Hapoel Petah Tikva, for example, are able to bask in the glory of their team's battling 1-1 draw with Maccabi Herzliya on Saturday. It is a fair system which works well for everyone - it gives the local teams more exposure, promotes the league matches and of course is fair for the fans who don't have to shell out a shekel to see the goals from all the games. For fans of English soccer, and many other leagues around the world, life is not so simple. The English Premier League is an institution which holds the rights to the broadcast of all games in the UK's top division, including highlights and goal snippets. Since its formation in 1992, the EPL has been able to make millions of pounds by flogging packages of highlights and live games to broadcasters around the world. Here in Israel, for example, we of course have the benefit of another fairly priced pay-per-view channel which kindly provides us with live English Premier League games for just a small amount of shekels. The highlights are also broadcast at some random time on another channel, giving everyone the chance to see the goals from the games featuring Manchester United, Liverpool, Watford et al. But what the EPL has failed to do has been to follow the Israeli model and make the games available to watch via the Internet. This appears to be a little unfair to the international supporter of the beautiful game who by some personal mishap misses the randomly broadcast highlights and cannot afford the fairly price pay-per-view channel. However, in recent months Internet-based supporters have taken the situation into their own hands and begun to offer highlights packages similar to the Israeli model, for free. It is only fair, the blogsters argue, that everyone should be allowed to see the goals from the EPL, even if this upsets the EPL itself, which has not sanctioned the broadcast of highlights on the Internet and then will not make any money from them. One of the more prominent is the recently launched blog 101greatgoals (http://www.101greatgoals.blogspot.com), named after a classic soccer video series from the 1980s featuring 101 very good goals from English clubs. As expected, the more prominent the Web site became, the more annoyed the EPL became. And soon the man running the blog, who is known only as Ronaldo Assis de Moreira, began receiving threatening e-mails from the EPL's lawyers. Even though the blog does not even publish the goals itself but simply provides links to videos on Youtube, the lawyer claimed the Web site's content was "an infringement of The FA Premier League's rights." "Please immediately cease all such infringements on any and all of your Web sites and confirm to us via e-mail that you have done so," he said. Of course, Ronaldo has refused to give in and 101greatgoals and other Web sites like it continue to thrive, and rightly so. Until the EPL and other international football leagues realize the power of the Internet and the importance of supporters, they will continue to be ridiculed by fans like Ronaldo. The Last Word managed to track down Ronaldo, who poured scorn on the EPL wasting time and money on lawyers. "We feel that the English Premier League should spend their time on more important matters that are affecting the game - for example racism and the high cost of ticket prices," he said. "We will continue to link to goals from all the main leagues - especially whilst the EPL do not offer the same service to fans around the world." Viva the Internet revolution! jeremylast@yahoo.com