Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, has threatened to not show the Women’s World Cup on television in five European nations – including Britain – in a dispute over money despite internal warnings regarding the time zone prior to Australia and New Zealand being selected as the hosts.
Sky News revealed that FIFA’s administration warned twice in a report on bid inspection that “a relative drop in audiences in Europe could be experienced” with a competition in Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Infantino has now said that the World Cup for Women may not be broadcast by the UK, France Germany, Italy, and Spain, because the broadcasters have not offered enough money to secure the rights.
The FIFA ruling council prepared the bid evaluation document in 2020 to evaluate the bids before the vote on the host of the 2023 event.
The report described the bid as “low-risk” from a commercial perspective, but it also stated in previously unreported remarks: “The strong television potential in Asian markets combined with additional domestic sales opportunities helps offset a relative decline in European audiences that is expected.”
In Europe , games would be broadcast in the mornings.
In 10 weeks, the tournament will begin with the Lionesses, the reigning European champions, vying for the first world title.
Mr Infantino described the current broadcaster offers as “disappointing”, and a “slap on the face” to all the great players, and “all the women in the world”.
The President said that it is the “moral and legally obligation” of the world football governing body to “not undersell” this tournament.
He said broadcasters offered FIFA between $800,000 and $10 million (PS8 million) for rights, as opposed to $100m (PS80m), $200m (PS160m), or more for the men’s World Cup.
It is believed that the BBC and ITV have the highest rights fees for joint offerings.
ITV will not be able to sell the Lionesses the prime time slots it sold to advertisers during the Men’s World Cup last year. Instead, they’ll show Gareth Southgate and his team reaching the quarterfinals in Qatar as well as Lionel Messi playing at the final World Cup for Argentina.
If the offers continue to be unfair [towards the women and women’s soccer], Mr Infantino warned, we would be forced to stop broadcasting the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the “Big 5” European countries.
FIFA+ can be used as a broadcasting alternative if the free-to air broadcasters in Britain – a requirement for the Women’s World Cup, which is a “crown-jewel” event – do not provide the value desired. Last year, the streaming platform was used in Brazil to broadcast the World Cup men’s game from Qatar.
FIFA said that Mr Infantino was in Qatar “to perform his presidential duties” in the lead-up to this World Cup.
His only visit to New Zealand after its successful bid was last year for the Women’s World Cup Draw. Since the vote to host the tournament, he has not been seen in Australia where the final is being held on the 20th of August in Sydney.
From 2020 to 2022, the countries had some form of quarantine requirement for visitors.
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Fatma Saamoura, FIFA’s secretary general, was in Sydney recently to assess the preparations for this first Women’s World Cup after the expansion of the number of teams from 24 to 32.
Australia and New Zealand defeated Colombia by a vote of 22 to 13.
FIFA’s inspection reports did raise concerns regarding the South American nation’s commercial proposition but were less concerned with TV audiences.
The article only stated that “kickoff times… would… generally fall outside evening European viewing hours” but added that the time zones “appeal to the Americas’ market strongly”.
FIFA claimed that the Women’s World Cup in 2014 was watched by over one billion people worldwide.