NYON, Switzerland -- ESPN and ABC will televise soccer's 2008 European Championship under an agreement announced Friday by the Union of European Football Associations.
All 31 games will be televised in the United States: two by ABC and the rest by ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Classic. The tournament will be played in Austria and Switzerland from June 7-29.
ESPN also has U.S. Spanish-language rights for ESPN Deportes and pay television rights in Latin America.
"We will have coverage of the European Championship which we have never had before," UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson said.
ESPN/ABC also has rights to the 2010 World Cup and has held rights to the European Champions League since 1994-95. Last May's final, broadcast at 2:45 p.m. EDT on a Wednesday, was watched by 573,000 homes on ESPN2. ESPN's Champions League deal runs through 2008-9.
"We continue to see the appeal of soccer in America growing, and particularly when comes in a time of the day that's unique and not up against U.S. sports prime time," ESPN International executive vice president Russell Wolff said. "This is a real nice product for us and our networks. We saw that with the World Cup and we see that in our regular broadcasts of the UEFA Champions League."
ESPN and ESPN2 broadcast 12 games of the 1996 European Championship, played in England. The 2004 tournament was available mostly on pay-per-view, with Fox Sports World televising five first-round games live and seven knockout-stage matches on tape delay.
ESPN Star was awarded 2008 Euro rights in India. Al-Jazeera was granted rights for the Middle East and North Africa, while the Hong Kong rights went to PCCW.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press