Final whistle for illegal football websites
By Alex Watkins A MAJOR National Police operation has shut down a number of websites that were illegally showing football matches.
Seven people have been arrested around the country, including in Alicante, revealed a spokesman for the force.
The investigation began in 2016 after the legal representative of the Spanish professional football league (La Liga) lodged an official complaint against the sites.
He accused them of charging money to view matches which La Liga had exclusive rights to show.
The police’s initial enquiries found 13 websites being used in this way, which offered links to view matches that were listed according to kick-off times and tournaments.
The content was available in various formats, including live streaming or as files available by direct download or via peerto peer (P2P) services.
The websites also obtained income from selling advertising on the sites, explained the spokesman.
To make it harder to locate the source of the websites and shut them down, their servers were located in France, Spain, the USA and Canada, using companies that offer services as an intermediary so that the real managers can remain anonymous.
In order to attract users - and therefore more profits - the pages were using the name of another well-known website which had been shut down by the National Police in October 2016.
Officers searched eight homes in Madrid, Alicante and Albacete; Játiva, Villalonga and Gandía in Valencia province; and Campillos in Málaga.
The raids caught the website administrators in the act of managing the pages.
“This enabled the investigators to prove on site that the offence was being committed and to collect many pieces of physical, digital and documentary evidence,” noted the spokesman.
As well as arresting seven people, the police were able to block access to seven websites and three bank accounts which received the income from this illegal activity.
Police estimate that those responsible could have made around €1.4 million from advertising and subscription revenue.
The investigation will continue to analyse the evidence obtained from the searches and the police have not ruled out making more arrests or shutting down more websites if they obtain further evidence.
An officer investigates on the internet