There can be little doubt that the wide availability of unlicensed streaming portals and IPTV services is causing grave concern among football leagues all over Europe.
The Premier League has been particularly vocal about this growing form of piracy and has taken matters to the UK High Court, obtaining blocking orders which enable it to take action in real-time, with the help of Internet service providers.
With the new season about to start this month, Italy’s top-tier football league Serie A has launched an anti-piracy campaign of its own, declaring that “Piracy Kills Football” alongside the hashtag #STOPIRACY which it hopes fans will spread across social media.
“The Serie A League is at the forefront of addressing the scourge of piracy, we must defend football against this criminal attack and make it clear to those who use illegal decoders that they are committing a real crime,” says Serie A president Gaetano Miccichè.
“The problem is global and damages football at all levels. We are strengthening the tools to identify and counter acts of piracy in real-time, but it is essential for us to create a system together with the help of the Government and the telecoms operators.”
However, it’s the comments of Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo that serve to raise a wry smile when viewed from a wider angle to encompass all kinds of video piracy and a Serie A sponsorship deal in particular.
“Piracy is a criminal phenomenon, implemented by people who do not realize the seriousness of what they are doing,” the CEO writes. “Continuing will end up destroying the content creation industry, the cinema, TV, print media, but also and above all football, the quintessential premium product.”
Citing the potential destruction of the cinema is an interesting choice.
Readers may recall our recent article which detailed the activities of Russia-based gambling company, 1XBET. In a nutshell, the majority of CAM-copies of movies (those filmed in cinemas and released online during their theatrical release), currently contain lots of advertising and promo codes for 1XBET.
According to SportBusiness Sponsorship, 1XBET is actually an official presenting partner for Serie A and as a result, its ads can be found almost everywhere on Serie A’s site. It even has its own ‘Player Profile’ page where the betting company is the star of the show. But there’s more.
“The three-year deal will run until 2021, making 1XBet the league’s International Presenting Partner, covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East, North Africa and the Americas,” the publication notes.
“As part of the deal, 1XBet will be featured in all match graphics, idents and virtual goal mat advertising in all live Serie A broadcasts.”
Bizarrely, given the coverage that 1XBET has received in relation to piracy and CAM copies of movies, its ads are also running on the very same page as Serie A’s anti-piracy campaign, right across the bottom of the screen and under the comments claiming that piracy is destroying cinema.
We’ve embedded some of the Serie A page below, so the context is clear in respect of the anti-piracy language (particularly that involving the cinema) and the positioning of the 1XBET advertising.
“1XBET is a gambling company originating from Russia that uses cam copies to advertise itself internationally,” Dmitry Tyunkin, Deputy Director of Anti-Piracy and Brand Protection at cyber-security firm Group-IB, previously told TorrentFreak.
As noted earlier, there’s no overwhelming evidence available to the general public that 1XBET itself is driving camming ‘sponsorship’ directly, even though the prevalence of the branding and advertising in pirate movie releases tends to suggest otherwise. Maybe pirates have taken it upon themselves to advertise the company in releases just for kicks., who knows.
Having said all that, Serie A doesn’t appear to consider any of this a problem, even when the same advertising appears on the same page as their very own anti-piracy campaign. Strange times indeed.
Finally, Serie A team Juventus promoted the campaign on Twitter. See for yourself how it went down with fans. Many cited much bigger issues as responsible for the impending death of football, not least (but not limited to) the extortionate prices fans are expected to pay to watch matches.