07/18/2013 05:31 EDT | Updated 09/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Top EU court rules against FIFA, UEFA over TV broadcast rights

BRUSSELS - The European Union's highest court has dismissed an appeal from FIFA and UEFA and sided with member states that insist on keeping the World Cup and the European soccer championships on free TV.

The Court of Justice rejected the appeals "in their entirety" Thursday.

The ruling will be welcomed by fans across the continent who follow the tournaments with uncanny zeal.

It confirmed a major slapdown for the world and European federations, who now face a restricted pool of broadcasters when they come to sell the rights to prime time matches.

The World Cup and European championships are each held every four years and are key income-providers for the federations.

EU member states have the right to select a series of top sports events to be shown on free TV.