Russian football fans are at risk of missing their own World Cup after TV networks are struggling to reach a deal to secure the rights to show games.
The country has invested around $11bn in preparation to host the 2018 showpiece event but with only 14 months to go until the World Cup finals kick off, governing body Fifa are still looking for a broadcaster to show the games in Russia.
State-run TV channels have flatly refused to meet Fifa’s price of $120m for the rights to show the tournament – a price at more than three times the amount Russia’s TV companies have previously paid to broadcast the World Cup.
As well as the World Cup broadcast rights, the Confederations Cup rights also haven’t been sold to local TV, despite the tournament – a tune up event for the World Cup also held in Russia – starting in only three months.
Petr Makarenko, the head of Moscow-based sports marketing agency Telesport, who provided market analysis for the Russian channels for negotiations believes Fifa are being unreasonable in their financial demands.
“If Fifa is waiting for someone from the government to come out with a bag of money and pay them, it might be a while before there’s a deal,” he told Bloomberg. “It’s not unusual for prices to go up for each tournament, but not by 200 per cent.”
Talks are ongoing but Fifa have already rejected a joint bid from the three state-controlled channels that broadcast last year’s European Championships in France.