By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, Cameroon
On the wake of two separate judgements claiming that the television and marketing rights long-term deal between the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and French based Lagardere Sports, breached competition rules, CAF has issued a statement terminating the US $1 billion deal.
As expected, Lagardere Sports have labeled CAF’s decision as “unlawful, unreasonable and unjustified” and have promised to fight to enforce the contract that runs from 2017 to 2028.
The French company is willing to accept modifications to the terms of the initial deal and will seek financial compensation if everything else fails.
In November 2018, a Cairo court ruled that the 11 year-long agreement between CAF and Lagardere Sports breached “Egyptian competition rules because Lagardere was appointed as CAF’s exclusive agent for marketing and media rights for an uninterrupted 20 year period without any open tender,” a statement from CAF explained on Friday.
The Egyptian Court meted out a fine of 100 million Egyptian Pounds to CAF (US $6.2 million).
The agreement was also judged to infringe competition regulations in 2017 by the Competition Commission for the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (CCC).
“Given the above developments, CAF had no choice but to terminate the agreement,” the statement from CAF said.
“Termination of the agreement is the legal consequence of the judgments of the Egyptian courts and the recommendations and imminent decision of the CCC.”
Lagardere Sports have vowed not to accept the decision without a fight.
“We have here a very, very strong case and we’ll do whatever it takes either to maintain the contract, deal with more changes or get a significant amount of cash,” Arnaud Lagardere, the managing partner of Lagardere Sports told reporters on Friday.
“This is really unfair and even if I know that no one should be too candid or naive in this business, I think we don’t deserve such a treatment.”
The French company has been involved in television production for the African football governing body for close to 20 years now.
According to broadcasters, planned coverage for next week’s 2021 AFCON qualifiers which were under the responsibility of Lagardere Sports have all been cancelled.
This promises to be a long legal battle between CAF and Lagardere Sports with both sides claiming to be in their rights.
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