FIFA Is Threatening a Women’s World Cup Broadcasting Blackout in Europe

Disappointing offers from TV companies could end in an ultimatum.

May 3rd 2023

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has threatened to block Women’s World Cup broadcasting in the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France unless TV companies increase their rights offers.

Broadcasters in the five countries offered the governing body between $1 million and $10 million for the broadcasting rights, compared to offers of up to $200 million for the Men’s World Cup less than a year ago. Infantino has described the offers as disappointing and believes FIFA has a “moral and legal obligation not to undersell the event.”

At a World Trade Organisation meeting, he said: “Should the offers continue not to be fair, we will be forced not to broadcast the Fifa Women’s World Cup into the ‘big five’ European countries. I call, therefore, on all players, 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.”

In the past, rights offers for tournaments were bundled with other events, such as the men’s World Cup. However, FIFA has now separated the bidding process.

One of the main challenges among broadcasters in Europe when it comes to this tournament will be fixture times, with games in Australia and New Zealand kicking off as early as 02:00 GMT. England’s three group games kick off between 09:30 and 12:30 GMT.

In an effort to get improved offers, Infantino has committed to all TV revenue being reinvested in women’s football.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup was the most watched women’s tournament ever, with 1.12 billion viewers tuning in. Nearly half of the tournament’s total viewing hours were from Europe. The average viewing time per person on the continent was 4.14 hours, more than double the average of the rest of the world.

The growth in the women’s game means this summer’s World Cup has the ability to eclipse those numbers – but only if broadcasters and FIFA can get on the same page.