As the battle for who owns broadcast rights for the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers continues to intensify, events surrounding the matter threaten to get uglier with the Rwandan game looming large.
Whilst Azam Media claims to have assumed broadcast rights for both the 2022 and 2026 World Cup qualification matches from FIFA for the jurisdiction of East African and surrounding areas, FUFA insists on entitlement to the Free-To-Air (FTA) coverage.
Reliable sources close to Mengo have informed Football256 that the football governing body is set to block Azam Media from producing the Cranes game against Rwanda scheduled for October 6, 2021, at the St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende
The Source further intimidated that the FA has vowed not to accredit the Azam Media crew if they continue to adamantly refuse to share the live link or view for FUFA’s preferred FTA channel which in this case is the state-owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation.
The move is likely to provoke more ugly scenes compared to the unpleasant phenomenon that ensued at the same venue over a fortnight as the Uganda Cranes took on Mali in what came to be their second qualification encounter.
The hideous episode witnessed a FUFA security agent, Herbert Masanda Nsubuga stand in front of the (Azam Media) cameras to purposely block viewers from watching the game live.
This was in FUFA’s bid to force Azam Media into giving up FTA feed to UBC, who according to the FA had secured broadcasting rights for the local audience from the federation.
Both parties have since issued contending statements on the matter, Azam threatening to take legal action on any rights encroachers and FUFA on the other hand stamping their stand as the sole FTA owners.
On Saturday, September 18, FUFA’s executive member in charge of marketing and communications Rogers Byamukama asserted that they (FUFA) owned the FTA rights and that they had no agreement with the world’s football governing body (FIFA) regarding the issue.
“Let me put it on record, FUFA has not had and does not have an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with FIFA for the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers,” he told KFM Sport.
However, speaking to this website, Byamukama has denied any allegations of FUFA’s intention to block Azam.
“I don’t know where this allegation is from. But I guess what is important is for Ugandans to be guaranteed they will have an opportunity to watch the game free without having to subscribe first.”
However, this website has since dug deeper on the matter in a bid to find the rightful freeholder. While on this quest, the author landed on a September 1, 2021 FIFA document contradicting FUFA’s narrative.
The letter addressed ‘To whom it may concern’ with reference to ‘Confirmation of Rights’ was signed by Jean-Christophe Petit, FIFA’s Director of Media Sales, Services and Content.
“FIFA has been mandated by each of the Member Associations of the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF) to license all broadcast rights to the FIFA World Cup 2022 African Qualifiers by any means,” read part of the letter.
“FIFA has granted Azam Media license to full, live and delayed audiovisual coverage to all matches of the second round and playoffs of the competition for exploitation in the territories of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi.”
If the letter is anything to go by, Azam are the duly rightful owner of the media rights either by PayTV or Free-To-Air (FTA). A confirmation that this might be a battle the federation will lose agonizingly.
It awaits to be seen though whether the country’s football governing body (FUFA) will go ahead and block the rights holder from live and delayed production at Kitende against the Amavubi Stars.