Spain’s Top Soccer League Fined for Spying on Fans via Mobile App

Spain’s top professional soccer league, “La Liga” has been fined €250,000 ($280,000) for using its mobile app to determine whether users were watching pirated games.

The country’s data protection agency said the free Android app, which reportedly has been downloaded nearly 10 million times, enabled fans to keep track of games, scores, player stats and schedules, among other data.

The technology could also track a user’s surroundings – such as a restaurant or sports bar – and determine whether matches were being shown illegally – information, the agency said, La Liga did not disclose to users.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

La Liga, along with English Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1, ranks among the most lucrative in the world. Yet, it contends annual revenue loses upwards of €150 million from pirated games.

“This translates into direct damage for clubs, operators and fans, among others,” La Liga said in a statement denying the allegations. The league  claims the regulatory agency is unfamiliar with the app’s technology.

“All this technology was implemented to achieve a legitimate goal: fight against piracy,” the league said.

La Liga, which said the app followed existing regulations, added it would shutter the alleged spying functions at the season’s end on June 30.

Facebook, Disney/ESPN+ Up Soccer Streaming

Soccer may be the world’s most-popular sport that has yet to generate mainstream appeal in the United States. But that isn’t stopping major domestic over-the-top video platforms from inking distribution deals with international professional leagues.

Disney’s recently launched OTT service ESPN+ signed a multi-year media agreement for three more top-division soccer leagues – Australia’s Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League, the Chinese Super League and the Dutch Eredivisie.

In all, more than 300 matches per season from the leagues will be streamed live exclusively in the United States on ESPN+.

“This agreement further boosts the position of ESPN+ as the leading new platform for live soccer matches in the U.S.,” Burke Magnus, EVP of programming and scheduling at ESPN, said in a statement. “These leagues join a lineup of hundreds of top-division live matches from Europe and North America, along with a strong lineup of original and studio soccer programming.”

Last week, ESPN+ announced a new multi-year agreement with Serie A TIM that includes more than 340 Italian soccer matches per year. The streaming service is also home to MLS Live – a collection of more than 250 Major League Soccer out-of-market matches, as well as local market media home for the Chicago Fire.

ESPN+ will carry more than 100 live matches from the UEFA Nations League (UNL), a new tournament among the 55-member nations from the Union of European Football Associations played on FIFA international match days beginning in September. In addition, ESPN+ subscribers have access to hundreds of English Football League (EFL), the United Soccer League (USL) matches.

The service also streams “ESPN FC”, ESPN’s daily global soccer news, information and analysis program.

Separately, Facebook signed a deal with Spain’s La Liga soccer league to stream matches in Asia. The €90 million agreement will live-stream 380 matches in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldivas, Nepal, Butan and Sri Lanka.

This summer Amazon Prime Video announced it would live-stream 20 Premier League soccer matches beginning in 2019.