Thai students play football under an expressway in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday. Pic: AP.

BANGKOK (AP) — The junta that overthrew Thailand’s elected government has struck a blow for freedom — the freedom to watch the World Cup.

As part of its goal to “return happiness to the Thai people,” the junta engineered a World Cup coup Thursday that will enable the country’s many football fans to watch all of the tournament’s 64 matches for free.

(MORE: World Cup fever in Thailand, brought to you by the military junta)

The generals acted after Thailand’s telecom regulator lost an appeal Wednesday to have RS International Broadcasting, the exclusive rights holder, air the matches on free TV channels. RS had planned to allow just 22 games to be broadcast for free.

On Thursday, the National Broadcasting and Telecoms Commission announced it had struck a 427 million baht ($13 million) compensation deal with RS so the entire World Cup can be shown on free channels.

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