Why it matters: Like many other major football (or soccer) leagues in Europe, LaLiga is being plagued by a rampant piracy issue. The organization is now proposing a harsh solution to this long-standing problem, which would require Google to directly remove apps from users' phones.
LaLiga wants to remove already downloaded apps on Android smartphones, and it wants Google to carry out this act. The outlandish proposition comes from Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish top men's professional football organization. The new football season is just a few days old, Tebas said, and LaLiga was already instrumental in "eliminating" 58 apps employed by Android users to illegally stream football matches.
Tebas recently joined Víctor Francos Díaz, Spain's Secretary of State for Sports and president of the Higher Sports Council (CSD), and member of the European Parliament Iban García del Blanco. During an event focused on the fight against sports piracy, Díaz said that piracy in Europe grew by 3.3% in 2022. LaLiga and other European major leagues are especially affected by this issue, and users are mostly enjoying their "illegal" matches through unauthorized IPTV streaming services.
According to data provided by Tebas, the aforementioned 58 piracy apps were downloaded by four million users worldwide. Spain accounted for around 1.1 million downloads, and most of these users (800,000) were using Android phones. After dealing with anti-piracy efforts for eight years, Tebas said, LaLiga is now reliably detecting over 46,000 IP addresses broadcasting pirated live sports events all over the world.
Tebas didn't provide details about how exactly LaLiga "eliminated" the 58 piracy apps targeted in the first few days of the new football season, but they were likely just removed from Google's official app store. LaLiga's head is indeed proposing stricter anti-piracy measures that would go way beyond a few tweaks on the Play Store.
The organization said it is "talking to Google" and other platforms to implement those new measures. Tebas stated that Mountain View must "eliminate" the apps that have been already downloaded on Android smartphones. If this can be done "for crimes such as child pornography," Tebas said, it can certainly be done for intellectual property "stealing."
Tebas statements are debatable, to say the least, as they are suggesting that child pornography and IP piracy are the same thing (or they should be the same thing) before the law. Furthermore, if LaLiga is asking Google to remove already installed apps, those apps can likely still count on perfectly functioning IPTV streaming infrastructures that the organization was unable to deal with thus far.