Soccer Broadcast Dispute Kicked Out of U.S. Court

     (CN) – A company challenging the Argentine Football Association’s international television rights deal cannot do so in the United States, a federal judge ruled.
     GMI said Asociacion del Futbol Argentino granted it the exclusive rights to broker its television and media rights in 2006.
     Three years later, however, the soccer association and the government of Argentina allegedly entered into a 10-year partnership agreement for those television rights without GMI’s assistance and then “flipped” the international transmission rights to IMG and Fox Sports/Fox Latin.
     With the association and Argentina now sharing the proceeds of that deal, GMI said it has been deprived of commissions it expected to receive for brokering broadcast rights.
     GMI filed suit in Miami against the association, Argentina, IMG and Fox Sports/Fox Latin, but U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga dismissed the case Monday for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
     “GMI, itself comprised of foreign citizens, has sued a foreign sovereign and a foreign association based on a foreign contract,” Altonaga wrote. “GMI cannot now claim it would have requested payment be made here in order to haul a foreign sovereign into a U.S. court under the commercial activity exception” to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
     Altonaga pointed to GMI’s failure to designate the U.S. as the place of payment of commissions.
     “Even if GMI had, at some point, indicated its desire to be paid in the United States, such allegation alone would fail to establish a contractual obligation on the purchaser’s part to make payment in the United States,” Altonaga found. “Because GMI’s allegations fail to establish the purchaser of AFA’s media rights would have been under any obligation to direct a payment into the United States, GMI has failed to demonstrate its payment was due here and that Argentina’s alleged interference caused a direct effect in the United States.”

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