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Football websites closed down as police arrest seven for illegal broadcasting 

Seven people have been arrested in Spain for the illegal broadcasting of football matches.

The operation carried out by the National Police was developed in Madrid, Alicante, Albacete, Gandía, Xátiva and Antequera.

The suspects are said to have offered the contents in different formats: direct download, streaming and P2P distribution, which allowed a wider diffusion.

The websites were hosted on servers located in France, Spain, the United States and Canada to try to make it difficult to locate them.

“The investigation began in 2016 as a result of a complaint signed by the legal representative of the National League of Professional Football against different websites, for providing indiscriminately in exchange for an economic consideration public access to football matches over which the League holds, exclusively, exploitation rights,” said a police spokesman.

“The television broadcast of these meetings is made under a payment service and on a conditional access basis, restricted to be viewed only by the subscribers who have paid to see them.”

The first investigations allowed the agents to discover the existence of a total of 13 web pages used to commit the illicit acts. The gang running it also gained advertising revenue.

“Likewise, the name of a well-known website, closed in October 2016 as a result of an earlier operation carried out by the National Police, was used in these pages as a claim to attract more users from all over the world and thus increase its economic benefit,” say the police.

Police carried out eight house searches where the suspects were carrying out the illegal transmissions.

“Investigators were able to verify in situ the commission of the crime and collect multiple physical, digital and documentary evidences of the illicit and the economic profit obtained as a result of this activity,” said the spokesman.

As well as making the seven arrests, access to seven infringing web domains and three bank accounts where the proceeds of the criminal activity were received were blocked.

It is estimated that they could have obtained an economic benefit of approximately 1,400,000 euros, both for the inclusion of advertising in the investigated portals and for television distribution with payment by subscription.

The investigation remains open and further arrests are likely, together with the blocking of more portals.