The controversy over TV rights
Fifa’s decision to unbundle the broadcasting rights for the Women’s World Cup from the men’s tournament for the first time provoked a bitter stand-off between the governing body and the “big five” European markets – UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Given that the scheduling in the southern hemisphere rules out any hope of prime-time kick-offs, the initial offers were low, as little as one per cent of the offers for the men’s rights, provoking Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, to call them a “slap in the face” to the players and “all women worldwide”.
After a long argument in the winter that spiralled into spring, Infantino took the doomsday option, threatening a media blackout for Europe’s traditional financial powerhouses. “It is our moral and legal obligation not to undersell the Fifa Women’s World Cup,” he said. “Therefore, should the offers continue not to be fair, we will be forced not to broadcast the Fifa’s Women’s World Cup into the ‘big five’ European countries.”
After six weeks of bargaining and rhetoric, a compromise was reached and a deal announced with the “big five” on June 15.
In the United States, long-standing agreements for both English and Spanish-language rights had been more straightforward.