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FIFA slams TV offers for 2023 Women's World Cup

October 22, 2022

Broadcasters offered considerably less to screen the event compared with the men's, FIFA chief Gianni Infantino said. Global interest in women's soccer has reached an all-time high after this summer's Euro championship.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the draw ceremony for the 2023 World Cup
FIFA's Gianni Infantino says broadcasters clearly don't value the Women's World CupImage: William West/AFP

FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Saturday hit out at what he said were unacceptably low offers for rights to screen next year's Women's World Cup.

Infantino said soccer's world governing body had rejected bids of just 1% of the value of men's World Cup rights deals for the women's tournament, which will take place in July and August in Australia and New Zealand.

Ahead of the tournament draw, Infantino told a news conference in Auckland, New Zealand, that FIFA had rejected offers of "100 times less — even more than 100 times in some occasions."

"I don't want to mention them," Infantino said, "but they know who they are."

Interest in women's game reaches fever pitch

The World Cup will have 32 teams for the first time and global interest is anticipated to be at an all-time high after the Euro 2022 tournament.

Time zones mean that many World Cup games, especially in the group stage, will be played in the nighttime hours in lucrative markets in Europe and the Americas.

"We know that the viewing figures for these broadcasters in some big footballing countries for the Men's World Cup or for the Women's World Cup are actually very similar, meaning their commercial income is very similar for men and for women," Infantino added.

For the first time, FIFA plans to sell the commercial rights separate from the men's tournament. Until now, it has been packaged as an add-on for broadcasters and sponsors.

Men's World Cup brings in billions

The men's World Cup has driven FIFA's expected overall income toward $7 billion (€7.1 billion) for the current four-year commercial cycle, which ends in December, after the tournament in Qatar.

Infantino said that FIFA had invested $1 billion dollars into women's football in recent years, and, though the 2015 and 2019 World Cups recorded a financial loss, he hoped that the next one would break even, costing about $400 million.

Broadcasters' double standards called out

The soccer chief took a further jibe at broadcasters who he said pushed FIFA to treat women's soccer more equally on issues such as World Cup prize money but yet tried to avoid paying what he said was a reasonable price for rights.

"In some countries, they are quite good at telling us that we should give more emphasis on treating men and women in the same way, which is, of course, what we have to do," Infantino said. But broadcasters, too, need to put actions behind their words, he added.

The 32 teams at the men's World Cup in Qatar will share $440 million in prize money, while a prize fund of $60 million was proposed for the first 32-team women's edition in 2023.

mm/wd (AFP, AP)