SINN FÉIN has said it is ‘unacceptable’ that football fans in Northern Ireland were unable to watch RTÉ’s coverage of Ireland’s opening game at the Women’s World Cup.
The Girls in Green lost 1-0 to co-hosts Australia on Thursday in what was their first appearance at the tournament.
The match was shown on RTÉ 2 and RTÉ Player, however, viewers in Northern Ireland were reportedly geo-blocked from tuning in.
The broadcaster only has the rights from FIFA to show the games in the Republic, with BBC and ITV holding the rights to broadcast games in Britain and Northern Ireland.
The game was available in the North on ITV1 and ITVX.
Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said the inability of viewers in the North to watch the match via Ireland’s national broadcaster was ‘a matter of deep frustration’.
“The ongoing geo-blocking of Ireland football games, and other sporting events, for viewers in the north is a matter of deep frustration, upset and offence,” said the former Lord Mayor of Belfast.
“It’s unacceptable that people in the north wishing to get behind the Ireland Women’s team in their opening game of the Women’s World Cup today were blocked from watching it.
“I recently discussed this issue with the FAI who have agreed to raise with UEFA in an effort to resolve this issue.”
Last year, Senator Ó Donnghaile said sporting bodies ‘must ensure when negotiating and selling the rights to broadcast their games and events, that the island of Ireland is treated as one broadcasting unit’.
Sinn Féin previously criticised a similar situation during the Olympics in 2021.
RTÉ dubbed the claims ‘inaccurate and misleading’ and said it only had the rights to broadcast the Games in the Republic of Ireland due to a territorial decision by the International Olympics Committee.
Ireland’s second group game against Canada this Wednesday will be shown on RTÉ 2 and RTÉ Player, while viewers in the North can watch it on ITV1 and ITVX.
Vera Pauw’s side round off the group stage against Nigeria on Monday, July 31, with the game shown on RTÉ News and RTÉ Player, as well as BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.