In 2022, PSG reported losses of €368 million, with reports suggesting that Mbappe’s contract will end up costing the club around €630 million euros.
Barcelona, one of Spain’s most iconic clubs, has an average match crowd of more than 83,000 fans, but is also €1.35 billion in the red. Manchester United is almost a billion pounds in debt, and according to a recent report, the majority of all clubs in the UK are “hugely loss-making.”
Italy Goes Hard on Pirates
Italian clubs also have debt problems; Inter Milan (€390m), Roma (€271m) and Juventus (€223m), for example. Top-tier Italian football clubs, broadcasters, and the government together concluded that since piracy must be mostly to blame, nothing should be off-limits in their quest to stamp it out.
Earlier this month, the Italian parliament gave the green light to new legislation that authorizes telecoms watchdog AGCOM to issue legally binding orders to the country’s ISPs. On receipt of an order and without delay, ISPs must take technical measures to block piracy-facilitating internet infrastructure.
Concerns that the entire internet industry would be required by law to stand by to protect the business interests of multi-billion euro corporations were mostly drowned out; urgency to get the law passed by parliament was the priority. Even when ISPs described the blocking program as a “mega firewall” scant attention was paid to the risks.
ISP Association Vows to Fight For Its Sector
After the law was passed earlier this month, official documents revealed that meetings to finalize exactly how unprecedented blocking would be achieved from a technical standpoint were yet to take place, and the “single technical platform” underpinning nationwide blocking in Italy was yet to be built.
Gian Battista Frontera is the president of the Association of Independent Providers (Assoprovider), a trade association that represents the interests of more than 200 small to medium-sized companies operating in the internet and telecoms sector. Frontera says that despite repeated warnings and requests to consider the concerns of its members, many of whom operate in remote, low-population, and disadvantaged areas, the government failed to listen.
“At risk are more than 2,000 companies and more than 10,000 highly specialized workers who have been providing services for decades in the most peripheral areas of the country, in inland and mountainous areas, those considered to be market failures where large companies are not present, playing a precious and irreplaceable role with their own financial resources in bridging the serious scourge of the digital divide,” Frontera wrote recently, hoping to avert a potential “disaster”.
The new law was ultimately approved by both houses of parliament, but Frontera says that it won’t be effective in the fight against piracy but will instead undermine Assoprovider’s members.
“[The law] obliges providers, at their own expense, to intervene promptly by disabling access to illicit content,” Frontera informs Corcom
“These obligations imposed on providers will force companies, which have an average of three to four employees and a turnover that barely reaches 500,000 euros, to hire at least four other people to guarantee a 24-hour control service, including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
According to Assoprovider estimates, the costs of complying with the rapid blocking requirements of the law could reach 200,000 to 300,000 euros per year, an amount that will push many smaller companies into bankruptcy. Larger players will have the resources to cope, Frontera suggests; they also have a vested interest.
“In addition to not being effective, this law still favors large multinationals, many of which have direct interests in the streaming sector, to the detriment of small and medium-sized enterprises,” he notes.
DAZN Angers Fans With Price Hikes
While the new law in Italy will protect all ‘live’ content, it was crafted to support broadcasters and football clubs in Serie A, Italy’s top league. Based on the assumption it will drive football fans away from pirate set-top boxes (known locally as “pezzotto”) and towards companies like DAZN, subscription uptake should be considerable.
Yet to a background of service failures and broadcasters offering much less for Serie A broadcasting rights, DAZN has just announced considerable subscription price rises in Italy. The country’s passionate football fans are less than happy (translated).
Over the past several days, DAZN has been the subject of relentless criticism on social media. The price increases are obviously unpopular since they widen the gap between pirate and legal subscriptions when people feel the opposite is required.
“After the new law on #piracyonline, #Dazn triples the costs of subscriptions, 55 euros per month for a poor service full of problems. If you wanted to wage war against #pezzotto you are on the wrong track, now doing so will become a necessity,” one comment reads.
The ‘coincidence’ between the new law being passed and prices going up is a popular angle of discussion, but there are plenty of others too, including DAZN’s website crashing when people tried to change their package online.
Overall though, many people feel that being a football fan is now more of a financial commitment than a pastime, one increasingly for the rich over the regular guy in the street.
The problem for Italy is that the popularity of the “pezzotto” will be difficult to repress, especially when events like those of the last few days end up generating interest in piracy, contrary to the goals of the new law.