FIFA President Gianni Infantino has threatened a Women’s World Cup broadcast blackout in five major European countries over unacceptable offers of media rights for the tournament.
“The offers from broadcasters, mainly in the ‘Big 5’ European countries, are still very disappointing and simply not acceptable based on four criteria,” Infantino said at a panel discussion at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France are the five European countries Infantino was referring to in his remarks.
“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,” Infantino added.
Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup from July 20 until August 20.
Infantino urged broadcasters to pay a “fair” price for the media rights for the tournament, FIFA – the world football governing body – announced in a statement on Monday.
Infantino noted “broadcasters pay $100 to 200 million for the men’s FIFA World Cup, but they offer only $1 to 10 million for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
He called the current offers a “slap in the face of all the great FIFA Women’s World Cup players and indeed of all women worldwide.
“Firstly, 100% of any rights fees paid would go straight into women’s football, in our move to promote actions towards equal conditions and pay. Secondly, public broadcasters in particular have a duty to promote and invest in women’s sport,” Infantino continued.
“Thirdly, 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.”
So far, FIFA has agreed to media rights deals with 156 territories for the 2023 Womens’ World Cup. Negotiations between FIFA and the “Big 5” European countries are ongoing over media rights for the tournament.
In March, Infantino announced prize money for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will increase by 300% to $150 million with “plans to dedicate a specific portion of this payment, to go to football development with another portion to go to players.”
While the Women’s World Cup prize money is now three times the 2019 figure and 10 times more that in 2015, prior to Infantino taking over, it is still considerably lower than the $440 million total prize money awarded at the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year.