UEFA, the organiser and owner of Euro 2024, has expressed its support for the anti-piracy operation conducted by the Guardia di Finanza in Italy.

The operation saw 14 searches carried out against 13 suspects in Italy, blocking illegal platforms with 1.3 million subscribers, which were unlawfully streaming UEFA Euro 2024 matches.

Following a report submitted by Sky Italia, the operation was coordinated by the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office. The Guardia di Finanza, the Italian body primarily responsible for dealing with financial crime and smuggling, blocked access to popular illegal IPTV services.

A UEFA spokesperson said: “UEFA welcomes and supports this successful operation. We would like to thank everyone involved for their ongoing efforts in fighting piracy by carrying out decisive action against organised crime.”

Piracy in sports broadcasting has long been a concern, but there has been a notable rise in illegal streaming in recent years.

Looking back to the last tournament, UEFA issued a similar statement after the Guardia di Finanza blocked over 600 illegal platforms in 2021 as part of the ‘Euro Strike 2020’ initiative.

The rise in illegal streaming can be attributed to several factors such as advancements in technology, making it easier to access and distribute content illicitly. However, the primary driver remains the high costs of legitimate broadcasting options and the increasing demand for live sports events, prompting viewers to turn to illegal alternatives.

This issue extends beyond major tournaments and sporting events. In a notable case last year, five individuals were sentenced to jail for running a sophisticated illegal streaming operation focused on the Premier League, boasting approximately 50,000 subscribers and making around £7m over a five-year period.

The spokesperson added: “Financial revenue generated from media rights is vital for the well-being of football at all levels. In particular, it is essential to football development and grassroots investment throughout Europe. 

“Therefore, the fight against online piracy of our competitions is of utmost importance and the contribution of our media partners is crucial in combating what is a shared problem.”

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