Experts are denouncing the failure of this year's World Cup in Japan and South Korea to be streamed live online as a missed opportunity.
Kirsh, the German media group which owns the TV and internet rights to the World Cup, has decided not to sell the rights that would enable other operators to offer live action over the web.
Such a service would have proved popular with staff located in time bands where matches will take place during work hours.
Rebecca Ulph, of analyst group Forrester, commented: "As only seven per cent maximum of Europe's online population has broadband, I guess Kirsh thought it was too complicated to sort out.
"But I do think we should be getting into doing these things and it would have been a stake in the ground for live broadband sports coverage."
Highlights and clips of matches may be available to some internet users, and interest has even come from Japanese mobile handset owners hoping to access highlights on their phones.
It serves as another blow to web coverage of international sports events. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled out the possibility of live broadcasts of events over the internet following the Sydney 2000 games.
The IOC said at the time that a move to internet broadcasting "might damage the value of TV rights".
Later this month, the Premiership title showdown between Manchester United and Liverpool will become the first pay-per-view game to be streamed live over the web.
In a joint venture with Granada Sport, Liverpoolfc.tv will charge fans £2.99 to watch live footage. Liverpool chairman Rick Parry said that this would enable fans from around the world to watch the game.
As for international events, Ulph said that the European Nations Cup, held in Portugal in 2004, would provide a great opportunity to start live web broadcasts.
"It's easier to regulate the rights of sports events according to defined geographical areas," she concluded.
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