May 27, 2024

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FIFA said it is close to a TV deal with Apple for a new tournament

FIFA said it is close to a TV deal with Apple for a new tournament

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) is close to reaching an agreement with Apple, granting the technology company the worldwide television broadcast rights for a new major tournament, one month long. World Cup style competition For the major teams that will play for the first time in the United States next summer.

The agreement could be announced as soon as this month, according to three people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to discuss the deal publicly because it has not yet been officially confirmed. This comes after several false starts in a competition sponsored by FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Plans to hold it in China in 2021 were scuppered by the pandemic.

The sources said that the value of the deal may be less than a quarter of the amount initially estimated by FIFA at four billion dollars. It is not clear whether the deal with Apple will include any free streaming rights, meaning the entire event could only be available to Apple TV+ subscribers, a factor that senior FIFA executives have raised concerns about.

If the deal goes through, it will be the first time FIFA, which will stage the first expanded 48-team men's World Cup in the United States in 2026, has agreed to a single global contract. It would also mark the latest foray into soccer for Apple, which in 2022 signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion agreement for global broadcast rights to Major League Soccer.

Streaming services are becoming increasingly interested in live sports, as they seek to attract more subscribers. Peacock streamed an NFL playoff game last season, while Amazon Prime has been streaming Thursday night NFL games since 2022. Apple also has a deal to stream Major League Baseball games. Netflix is ​​focusing more on sports documentaries, though it has recently moved into live “sports-adjacent programming,” including a multibillion-dollar deal to stream World Wrestling Entertainment's flagship weekly wrestling show, “Raw.” It also announced that it will broadcast a boxing match between former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and social media influencer Jake Paul in July.

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FIFA had hoped that the tournament, which will feature a mix of successful teams from around the world, including 12 teams from Europe, where most of the world's best talent plays, would create significant demand from broadcasters and commercial partners. But a combination of poor planning and delays led broadcasting companies to reject the numbers FIFA was seeking. Sponsors have also been reluctant so far to commit to the $150 million the organization is seeking for sponsorship packages, according to the people.

A global deal with a major company like Apple could give the tournament the high-quality look that Infantino was trying to secure. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayer declined to comment. A FIFA representative did not respond to a request for comment.

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has allocated the period from June 15 to July 13 of 2025 to hold the tournament. It comes after a long European season, which has traditionally been a time when no major events take place in order to allow players to rest in the off-season a year before the World Cup. Players' associations criticized FIFA for not being consulted before announcing the event.

FIFA also faces significant costs by holding the event in the United States, where it will serve as preparation for the World Cup. Some games will be in large arenas, including NFL stadiums that must be rented. FIFA had hoped to secure major sponsorship partners willing to pay up to $100 million paid by World Cup sponsors per tournament, but with just over a year to go, no partners have been announced for the tournament.

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The deal must close soon to be announced ahead of schedule later next month, as entertainment companies try to attract advertisers by talking up future programming.

European clubs have been pressing the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) for months to obtain concrete details about the event, including the cities in which it will be held, and even its name. FIFA had said the event would be called the FIFA Club World Cup, but teams have now been told this is under review.