A top European court ruled Thursday that football fans should be able to watch the World Cup and Euro championship on free television channels.
In a rebuke to football's governing bodies FIFA and UEFA, the court ruled that EU states can prohibit exclusive broadcasting of World Cup and Euro games by designating some events untouchable "crown jewels."
FIFA and UEFA, the organisers of the world's biggest football tournaments, had challenged the right of Belgium and Britain to show all World Cup and Euro nations championship games on free TV.
An EU directive allows member states to designate major sporting and cultural events of national interest, and therefore broadcast them on channels available for free to the public.
The football governing bodies had argued that not all matches can be considered events of major importance to the public.
But the general court, the European Union's second-highest tribunal, ruled that all World Cup and Euro championship matches can be regarded by states as "events of major importance".