FIFA chief makes Women’s World Cup broadcast warning over ‘unacceptable’ offers
Gianni Infantino says FIFA will be “forced not to broadcast” this summer’s Women’s World Cup in the ‘big five’ European countries if bidding outlets do not improve on “disappointing” and “unacceptable” offers.
England’s quest for a first world title begins in Brisbane on July 22, but so far no deal has been announced for the European champions’ broadcast rights in the UK, with Spain, France, Italy and Germany also among those singled out by FIFA president Infantino.
Infantino made similar statements at FIFA’s 73rd congress last month, and on Monday reiterated his critique at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, later branding the offers as “a slap in the face of all the great FIFA Women’s World Cup players and indeed of all women worldwide” in an Instagram post.
Infantino wrote: “Today, I have repeated my call for broadcasters to pay a fair price for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™️ media rights. We did our part: FIFA has raised the prize money to USD 152 million, treble the amount paid in 2019 and 10 times more than in 2015 (before I became FIFA president).
“However, the offers from broadcasters, mainly in the ‘Big 5’ European countries, are still very disappointing and simply not acceptable, especially considering that:
“1) 100% of any rights fees paid would go straight into women’s football, in our move to promote actions towards equal conditions and pay;
“2) Public broadcasters in particular have a duty to promote and invest in women’s sport;
“3) The viewing figures of the FIFA Women’s World Cup are 50-60% of the men’s FIFA World Cup (which in turn are the highest of any event), yet the broadcasters’ offers in the ‘Big 5’ European countries for the FIFA Women’s World Cup are 20 to 100(!) times lower than for the men’s FIFA World Cup; and
“4) concretely, whereas broadcasters pay USD 100-200 million for the men’s FIFA World Cup, they offer only USD 1-10 million for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. This is a slap in the face of all the great FIFA Women’s World Cup players and indeed of all women worldwide.
“So, to be very clear, it is our moral and legal obligation not to undersell the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Therefore, should the offers continue not to be fair (towards women and women’s football), we will be forced not to broadcast the FIFA Women’s World Cup into the ‘Big 5’ European countries.
“I call, therefore, on all players (women and men), fans, football officials, Presidents, Prime Ministers, politicians and journalists all over the world to join us and support this call for a fair remuneration of women’s football.
“Women deserve it! As simple as that!”
The tender process for UK broadcasting rights to the tournament, hosted by Australia and New Zealand between July 20-August 20, opened in June 2022 with a bid deadline of July 12 that year.
It followed the government’s April 2022 announcement that both the Women’s World Cup and UEFA Women’s EURO would be added to the Listed Events Regime, “crown jewels” sporting events that must be offered to free-to-air broadcasters, limiting potential bidders.
The PA news agency understands that there are positive discussions ongoing with potential UK broadcasters but no concrete deal has been agreed.
Rishi Sunak wants the Women’s World Cup to be televised, Downing Street said.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said he had not seen the specific comments from FIFA chief Infantino, but added: “I think the Prime Minister, like everyone in the UK, would want to see such an important event televised, not least following the huge success of our Lionesses.”
The 2023 tournament will also be the first Women’s World Cup to take place under FIFA’s overhauled commercial structure, announced in 2021, which for the first time “unbundled” the women’s game from the men’s, allowing brands to take up dedicated partnerships exclusively for its women’s football programmes.