Euro footie deal cheers Thais

Euro footie deal cheers Thais

Shoe firm secures B310m TV rights

The state-run NBT2HD TV channel will show every game at Euro 2020 live after a deal was struck at the last minute before the month-long football tournament.

Prime Minister's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai said on Friday the US$10 million (310 million baht) broadcast rights for the European Championships had been entirely funded by the Thai division of Summit Footwear, which then handed over the rights to the government.

Thai football fans all over the country are interested in the event held every four years but no private company had secured the broadcast rights due to the Covid-19 pandemic so Mr Anucha said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha tasked him with finding a solution.

"Thai football fans can now watch every match at the tournament live on NBT," he said.

Mr Anucha thanked everyone who had been involved in the late coup, particularly Komol Jungrungreangkit, chairman of Summit Footwear.

"We had only two days to negotiate," Mr Anucha revealed. "Initially, we held talks with several state agencies and private companies who were interested in supporting the broadcast but because we had so little time Mr Komol stepped in, bought the rights and gave it to NBT to show the matches.

"No public money was spent -- Summit Footwear spent US$10 million or about 310 million baht to buy the rights."

The tournament is being broadcast under the theme "Returning happiness to Thais for them to watch Euro 2020," said Mr Anucha.

"The prime minister wanted to see Thais happy by being able to watch the football."

The deal was stuck just in time for fans to watch the opening match in Rome between Italy and Turkey (2am Thailand time).

An estimated 16,000 fans were expected at Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital, about a quarter of its capacity.

The final is at London's Wembley Stadium on July 11.

Thailand has shown the European Championship live since the early 1990s.

Mr Komol said he initially wanted to secure the rights with just 10 million baht but due to the urgency of the situation, he decided to shoulder the entire asking amount.

"It took me only seconds to decide to buy the broadcast rights," he said.

Meanwhile, Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said he had told the Police Cyber Taskforce to crack down on illegal online gambling websites during both Euro 2020 and the Copa America (South American championships), which kicks off tomorrow. They will be closed if found guilty of breaking the law, he said.

He also warned that influencers, columnists and "pretty" models who advertise on social media to persuade people to gamble would be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin told AFP on Friday that the teams would have to deal with "a special situation" to complete Euro 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It's not a usual Euro because it's in 11 countries and on top of it there's a pandemic, which makes travelling even more difficult," Mr Ceferin said. "So every team will have to adapt to a special situation to finish these Euros."

The 24-team event is still being called Euro 2020, having been postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

Despite players in the Spain, Sweden and Russia squads all returning positive Covid-19 tests in the days leading up to the event, Mr Ceferin remained confident the competition would proceed without any disruptions.

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