Over 2000 bars and restaurants have been inspected as part of a nationwide clampdown on the illegal screening of football matches. Owners are alleged to have made ‘premium’ football content available to their clients without authorisation. Of the 2000 establishments inspected, around 60% were found to have been screening football matches illegally, most using a so called ‘android box’ to broadcast the games.
National Police across Spain carried out the inspections, starting in November of last year, when legal representatives of La Liga, Spain’s national football league, filed official complaints against various public establishments across Spain for alleged crimes against intellectual property.
It was claimed that certain bar and restaurant owners were making ‘pay per view’ content available to clients without authorisation, causing economic damage to La Liga, its clubs and sponsors and also to the bar and restaurant owners who did actually pay the corresponding fee to broadcast matches to their clients in a legal manner.
When La Liga became aware that this activity was taking place, it carried out its own investigations of the offending establishments before formally presenting its report to the National Police.
The Central Cybercrime Unit coordinated the operation at a national level while officers carried out the necessary inspections during the live broadcasting of La Liga games in order to verify the claims made in La Liga’s own report. If a bar was found to be illegally broadcasting a game, officers disconnect the devices used and seized any illegal decoder while issuing a summons to the person in charge to make a statement to police.
The investigating officers found that approximately 60% of the establishments inspected were carrying out illegal rebroadcasting through various media. The most common was the use of a “vitamin” decoder, which had illegally altered firmware to decode private signals and access viewing of the games for free.
At present, investigations continue as the statements of the owners are being documented and over 800 decoding devices examined.