The president of football’s global governing body on Tuesday severely criticized European broadcasters for failing to meet FIFA’s demands to raise TV rights fees significantly for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. He threatened that if the offer did not improve, the tournament’s matches would not be televised in many of Europe’s biggest markets.
“It is our moral and legal obligation not to underestimate the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” said Gianni Infantino. Appearance on the World Trade Organization at Geneva. “So if the offer continues to be unfair, we will be forced not to broadcast the FIFA Women’s World Cup to Europe’s ‘Big Five’ countries,” he added. , which includes Italy, all of which send teams to the tournament.
Infantino called the offer of World Cup rights a “slap in the face” not only for World Cup players, but also for women in general.
The comments escalated a battle that Infantino opened last year.He and FIFA rejected initial offers of rights to the women’s championship from several countries as too low. Seeing the fight as a battle for equity, they have since established themselves as champions of women’s football by increasing prize money for this year’s tournament and pledging to bring it on par with the men’s World Cup by 2027. Did.
But he will need hundreds of millions of dollars from broadcasters and sponsors to deliver on those promises. Also, his threat that the match might not be broadcast in Europe, a major driver of the growth of women’s sports, carries serious risks.
With just over two months to go before the start of tournaments in Australia and New Zealand and little sign of an agreement, the dispute risks overshadowing the biggest Women’s World Cup to date. FIFA expands the event to 32 teams for the first time as part of efforts to grow the women’s game, with player prize money and team support money five times higher than last time, to her $150 million Increased. The tournament was held in France in 2019.
Infantino hoped much of that commitment would be funded by higher royalties from international broadcasters. At both FIFA annual meetings held, blaming media companies, he said otherwise. He lashed out at television companies for not paying more for their products.
There has been little movement since then, but he drew an even tougher line in his latest comments.
“Therefore, I call on all players, fans, football officials, presidents, prime ministers, politicians and journalists around the world to join us and support this call for fair compensation for women’s football.” on his Instagram account“Women deserve it. It’s as simple as that.”
Meanwhile, women’s football in the US and Europe, where TV deals are in place, have enjoyed more investment. audience rating In recent years, even its biggest matches are often significantly lower than comparable men’s soccer matches, and less attractive matches can struggle to attract even crowds inside stadiums. also appears to be taking a cautious stance on assigning value to women’s World Cup rights, which have never been on the market before.This is the first time FIFA has separated the women’s tournament from the men’s tournament. Previously, women’s rights were bundled as an additional fee with bids for men’s World Cup rights.
While acknowledging that playing tournaments in Australia and New Zealand could be a factor for European broadcasters, Infantino said the amount currently being offered for tournaments is FIFA’s true value. He said viewership for the women’s tournament was 50% to 60% that of the men’s World Cup, but the amount offered for women’s matches was much higher. was also much lower. That’s 1/100th of the men’s FIFA World Cup. ”
“Broadcasters will pay $100-200 million for the Men’s FIFA World Cup, while only offering $1-10 million for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. , and a slap in the face for all women in the world.”
In the UK, Europe’s largest market, there is a great deal of interest in women’s football. It peaked last year when England defeated Germany to win the European Championship at home. That final was played in front of a packed Wembley Stadium and on television she was watched by more than 17 million people. This is the highest number of viewers for a televised women’s match in the UK. The figures for the final made up her 35% of the global audience for the match, according to data from the governing body of European football.
But while the same data highlights how certain women’s matches are attracting more viewers in certain markets, tournaments with more matches than ever before have seen premium teams It highlights broadcasters’ concerns about seeing numbers for matches they haven’t appeared in. News media reports say the BBC and ITV, Britain’s two main broadcasters, have about 100% stake in the World Cup broadcast rights. offered £9 million ($11.2 million). This is the highest amount among European broadcasters. The offer from Italy is about $1 million.
The failure of FIFA and the broadcaster to reach a rights agreement within the next two months does not mean that the game will be unavailable to fans in Europe. FIFA officials have previously spoken of possible alternatives, including airing the game on its own streaming platform or FIFA’s YouTube channel. It carries its own risk of declining both viewership and revenue for events (and sports) that represent