Europe’s top soccer nations face a broadcast blackout for this year’s Women’s World Cup unless media can improve on their “disappointing” offers for the rights, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said.
Offers from “Big 5” European countries were not acceptable to football’s world governing body and a “slap in the face” of the players and “all women worldwide”, Infantino said.
The ‘Big 5’ nations are Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
“To be very clear, it is our moral and legal obligation not to undersell the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” Infantino said at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva.
“Therefore, should the offers continue not to be fair, we will be forced not to broadcast the FIFA Women’s World Cup into the ‘Big 5’ European countries.”
The World Cup, being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, starts on July 20.
Infantino said broadcasters had offered only $1 million-$10 million for the rights, compared to $100 million-$200 million for rights to the men’s World Cup.
Due to the time-zone difference, Women’s World Cup matches will be held outside prime-time viewing hours for European markets but Infantino said that was no excuse.
“Maybe … it’s not played on prime-time in Europe, but still, it is played at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., so it is quite a reasonable time,” he said.
Some 1.12 billion viewers tuned into the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France across all platforms, according to a FIFA audit of the tournament.