Romanian broadcaster blocked Hungarian channel from broadcasting Sepsi OSK’s Cup final

The Romanian broadcaster informed its partner, Hungarian TV channel M4 Sport, just one hour prior to the start of the Romanian Cup final yesterday, that they do not have the international broadcasting rights to the game – as they had earlier stated. Despite their agreement, the partner stated that M4 Sport could not broadcast the final live. Because of this, the Hungarian channel was not able to broadcast the most important match in the history of the Szekler-Hungarian Sepsi OSK, played against FCSB. M4 Sport has promised legal action.

After signing the contract with their Romanian partner, Hungarian M4 Sport advertised the Cup final on their platforms even one day before the game. (Photo: m4sport.hu)

Sepsi OSK was founded in Sepsiszentgyörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe in 2011 and started to play football in the 5th league. Moving up year by year, they entered the 1st league only six years later in 2017, and now they played their first-ever Romanian Cup final last night.

The stakes were huge because the winner of the match steps onto the international stage by qualifying for the European League. So, it is understandable that the interest in the match was high not only among Transylvanian Hungarian sports fans, but also in Hungary and other parts of the Carpathian Basin where Hungarians live. Therefore, Hungarian TV channel M4 Sport made an agreement with its Romanian partner about the broadcasting rights in advance. But 74 minutes before the starting whistle was blown, the Romanians sent an e-mail to the Hungarians that they were sorry, but they did not have the international broadcasting rights as they had stated before and so then coded the broadcast signal.

According to M4 Sport, this is strange because a few days earlier, their Romanian colleagues were the ones confirming to them that they did have the rights, and the channel made their agreement only after this. Channel Director of M4 Sport Dávid Székely said that they are going to take legal steps to avoid similar situations in the future:

“We asked the firm, which we signed the contract with, if they had the Cup final’s broadcasting rights. The answer on July 13th was “yes.”

So, we had been preparing and waiting for the match according to this, because it was clear for us how important this final was. But a little more than an hour before the start of the match, we received a very kind e-mail in which they apologized for the inconvenience, but they did not have the international broadcasting rights of the game, so they could not provide them to us, and then they coded the signal, which up until that point had not been coded, and we did not get the password to it. The point is that unfortunately then, we could not broadcast the match, but, of course, we are going to take legal steps.”

Alternative solutions: YouTube – and Transylvanian Hungarian Radio via the internet

Hungarian football fans in the Carpathian Basin, who do not speak Romanian, had to find an alternative solution fast after realizing they cannot watch the game on TV. Fortunately, the match was available, also in Hungary, via the live stream of the Romanian Football League’s official YouTube channel (no copyright issues here); so after turning down the volume of the Romanian commentator speaking, the Hungarian-language broadcast of Marosvásárhelyi/Târgu Mureș Radio, also via internet, could be turned on instead.

The Romanian Cup final between Sepsi OSK and FCSB on July 22, 2020, which was not broadcasted in Hungary despite an agreement. (Photo: sport pictures)

And the game itself: FCSB won by one goal

Otherwise, FCSB won the match by a goal in the 65th minute, following a defense mistake by Sepsi OSK. Moreover, the Szekler team had to finish the game with 10 players after Bouhemma collected his second yellow card in the 80th minute — having received his first just three minutes earlier, and had to walk off the field.

By this one goal, the Bucharest team, formerly known as Steaua, won the Romanian Cup for the 24th time, which is a country record, while it could have been the first time for Sepsi OSK. However, taking into consideration the mere nine-year history of the Szekler team, the silver medal is still an outstanding achievement.


Title image: An e-mail was sent 74 minutes before the game to M4 Sport telling them that due to a “misunderstanding” they do not have the international broadcasting rights despite stating earlier that they did. (Image: M4 Sport)



Author: Attila Szoó