By Emily Goddard at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami

Javier Tebas has warned TV rights owners will go belly up if piracy is not eliminated ©ITGJavier Tebas, President of Spain's La Liga, has warned that television rights owners will go "belly up" if piracy is not eliminated from the sports media market.

Speaking here at SPORTELAmerica about how football is operating in the global digital market, the Spaniard explained how the power of digital technology can be harnessed to grow business but also highlighted the threat posed by illegal streaming of coverage.

"What is the big problem we are having in Spain and the rest of the world?" Tebas said.

"All of us who are owners of TV rights, it is piracy.

"If we don't end piracy all of us who own rights will go belly up, and sooner than later.

"Today in Spain say 80 per cent of piracy goes through streaming, goes through the digital environment.

"[This is] worse legal conditions than our competitors in the [English] Premier League, the [German] Bundesliga and in Italy.

"It is obvious our project is going to be much cheaper.

"We will lose market positioning."

An estimated $538 million worth of La Liga matches were watched illegally in Spanish homes last year ©Getty ImagesAn estimated $538 million worth of La Liga matches were watched illegally in Spanish homes last year ©Getty Images

Statistics released last week revealed that almost nine out of 10 downloads in Spain are illegal, making it one of the worst countries for internet piracy in Europe.

A total of 139 million football matches, which equates to an estimated market value of $538 million (£360 million/€497 million), were watched illegally in more than 1.8 million Spanish homes last year.

New copyright law came into force in the country at the beginning of this year which could see illegal streaming platforms now facing fines of up to €600,000 (£435,000/$650,000) if they fail to take down the sites, but Tebas thinks more can be done.

He said there is still a need for the Spanish Government to make "important changes" to the legislation surrounding piracy and admitted it is a cultural problem, but explained how La Liga is taking matters into its own hands.

"We need active measures from the state against piracy," he added.

"If we don't end it we will end up belly up because our product will go to practically zero.

"We are working towards changes from regulators and legislators but we can't lay the blame on the EU or the Spanish Government.

"We have created our own league, we have created a system through which we detect those pages that have Spanish football.

"This is through spiders and web environments.

"We detect the advertising of the companies who are promoting themselves through these pages.

"We scan all those through a product we created ourselves.

"We send an image of the ads to every company who is being advertised and we say, 'Hey, you are getting advertising where there is illegal content'.

"Normally the companies are very surprised.

"We have even reached very important companies."

Tebas urged for an attack against illegal streaming sites and said the problem goes so much further than just football, with piracy also affecting golf and basketball too.

He insisted a working relationship with Google is a key factor in the battle against piracy.

"Google needs to get involved with that fight," he added.

"I know we will succeed, I just don't know when."

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