Gol TVWaves Italian National Team Rights

Soccer-centric Gol TV will feature 11 matches from 2006 World Cup champion Italy, kicking off with an international friendly against Belgium May 30.

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, with RAI Trade, which handles international TV distribution rights for the side, gives Gol TV exclusive broadcast rights in the U.S. and Canada to five home Italian 2010 World Cup qualifying matches, plus six friendlies over the next two years.

Italy's home 2010 World Cup qualifying matches will come against Georgia (Sept. 10), Montenegro (Oct. 15), Ireland (April 1, 2009), Bulgaria (Sept. 9, 2009) and Cyprus (Oct., 2009). Italy is currently ranked third in the world by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body.

As was reported last month by Multichannel News, Gol TV, which offers both English- and Spanish-language feeds and reaches some 16 million subscribers,also has secured the rights for 2010 World Cup qualifiers for Spain and Germany, as well as international friendlies involving the fourth- and fifth-ranked teams in the world, respectively.

Several of the Italian national team members regularly appear on Gol TV due to the network’s exclusive U.S. rights to Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga, including Fabio Cannavaro from Real Madrid and Luca Toni from Bayern Munich. In addition to matches from the Italian, German and Spanish national teams, Gol TV will also bring viewers exclusive coverage of several other top international soccer championships, notably Copa Del Rey and Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) in 2008.

Gol TV previously offered action from Serie A, Italian’s top domestic league, but those rights in the U.S. are now held by Fox Soccer Channel.

“We decided to offer the broadcasting rights to Italy’s qualifiers to GolTV because of the constant quality of GolTV’s soccer program offerings,” said RAI Trade CEO Carlo Nardello in a statement. “It has not taken us long to turn to GolTV, as the Italian qualifiers are worth more than just their commercial value to us.”

Noted Gol TV founder and CEO Enzo Francescoli: “By bringing soccer fans the high-quality action of Italy’s qualifying matches, we reassert our relentless commitment to providing North American viewers the opportunity to see the best soccer matches played throughout the world right in their homes.