Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fox Sports Reported to Oppose FIFA World Cup Schedule Change

In my paper on holding FIFA accountable (here in PDF) I discussed six different mechanisms of accountability, drawing on the academic literature on governance. One of those was market accountability:
Market accountability refers to influence that is exercised by investors or consumers through market mechanisms.
According to Bloomberg, Fox Sports is not happy with FIFA proposed move of the 2022 World Cup to a winter date:
Fox Sports, which agreed to pay a record fee for U.S. broadcast rights to soccer’s World Cup, told the sport’s governing body it opposes plans to reschedule the 2022 event in Qatar, two people familiar with the matter said.

James Murdoch, the son of 21st Century Fox Inc. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, and other network executives told FIFA that moving the competition by several months from its usual June start to the winter would clash with National Football League games, according to one person familiar with the matter. The people requested anonymity because the talks were private.

FIFA’s executive board is meeting next month to discuss a proposal by the Zurich-based organization’s president,Sepp Blatter, to reschedule the tournament because of the high temperatures in Qatar. Fox in 2011 agreed to pay $425 million for the two-tournament, 2018-22 package, more than four times what current rights holder ESPN paid for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and next year’s tournament in Brazil.

“FIFA has informed us that they are considering and voting on moving the 2022 World Cup,” Fox said in an e-mailed statement. “Fox Sports bought the World Cup rights with the understanding they would be in the summer as they have been since the 1930s.”
Sponsors and others with a financial stake in FIFA have not in the past shown too much concern about FIFA governance. The 2022 Qatar World Cup decision is different in that it has a clear relationship to television revenues, and Fox is heavily invested in making money off of the tournament.

In football governance, as elsewhere, money talks. Fox Sports has the potential for significant influence on FIFA upcoming decision making. Stay tuned.


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