Expat World Cup experience suffers: English commentary banned in Thailand

Expatriates throughout Thailand are not enjoying the 2010 world cup quite as much as they had hoped for. English-language commentary for the 2010 World Cup has been banned throughout Thailand as a result an exclusive agreement between Fifa and RS, a Thai broadcaster. The agreement, which did not include English commentary, entails that the matches are only available with Thai commentary throughout the country.

When questioned as to why English commentary was not included in the agreement, a representative of TrueVisions, a local broadcaster in Phuket, disclosed that they had been unable to purchase the rights to show the game in English because RS themselves had been unable to purchase them from Fifa: “This is not the fault of RS International Broadcasting, but is due to restrictions by the original provider of the World Cup, Fifa, which is not allowing English commentary in Thailand due to the high broadcast piracy problem among neighboring countries.”

Talking in a Phuket newspaper, The Gazette, one British expatriate described how it has ruined his world cup experience and that he has been unable to enjoy the games in the same way as he usually would. He attributed this to being unable to fully engage with the game on the screen: “Thai commentary doesn’t do that because you’ve got no idea what’s going on,” he said. “You just end up standing in front of the screen and speaking with your friends – and missing parts of the game.”

In order to try and offer English language commentary for the World Cup matches, many bar owners have turned to Malaysian broadcaster Astro Supersport and are using their satellite network to gain access to the games. Authorities, however, have warned that this is illegal and that they will treat any offenders seriously.