WDR Director General Tom Buhrow has defended the line of the public broadcasters in the negotiations over the TV rights to the Women's World Cup and clearly criticized FIFA President Gianni Infantino. "Unfortunately, at the moment you can't really speak of negotiations in the true sense of the word," Buhrow said on ARD. "Mr. Infantino is trumpeting in public, trying to put moral pressure on us. Not like that. You can sit down at a table and discuss the matter, not in public."
At the moment, it is still unclear who will televise the tournament from July 20 to August 20 in Australia and New Zealand. According to F.A.Z. information, the public TV stations have offered five million euros for the broadcasting rights to the final tournament with 32 teams for the first time. The "Kicker" had also reported on this sum. FIFA, however, is apparently demanding twice as much. With just under two months to go before the first game, there is no solution in sight. Time is of the essence. Because there were now only a few weeks left for the complicated planning of the broadcasters.
Buhrow: "Don't let yourself be blackmailed"
Infantino justifies the demand with a significantly better promotion of women's football, so among other things, the bonuses will rise. "The offers of the broadcasters, especially from the five major European countries, are still very disappointing and simply unacceptable," Infantino said in early May. Buhrow said on Friday: "We have made the highest bid, that is not enough for Mr. Infantino." He is trying to build up moral pressure for fair remuneration for women's football, Buhrow explained. "You can't let yourself be blackmailed."
In a conversation published on Twitter by WDR, the director also said: "We are proud that we have offered football, women's football, a stage for decades, that we were able to help make it big, we want to continue to do so, but we also have to leave the church in the village." Infantino "apparently doesn't see that." ARD sports coordinator Axel Balkausky recently described the offer as "in line with the market" in an interview with the F.A.Z. ZDF takes a similar position.
The WDR director pointed out that, as before, FIFA could have jointly tendered the rights for the men's and women's World Cups and then ensured the distribution of the revenues itself. In October, FIFA, the world governing body, awarded the free TV media rights to the World Cup for 28 European countries to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), in which state and public broadcasters work together. Channels from Germany were not included in the package, as were channels from France, Great Britain or Spain. On the other hand, Switzerland and Austria are supplied by the EBU Treaty.
The summer tournament is the first Women's World Cup to be held in the Southern Hemisphere and Asia-Pacific region. For the first time, 32 teams will compete. The German team was drawn against Morocco, Colombia and South Korea as preliminary round opponents. After the success of the European Women's Football Championship in the summer of 2022, the interest of German broadcasters in broadcasting Bundesliga matches had also increased. What is unfortunate for the European market, however, is that most of the games take place in the early morning or morning due to the time difference.
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser urged on Friday for an early solution. "I appeal once again very strongly, in the interest of the people who want to participate in this wonderful football festival, to ensure a transmission," said the SPD politician on Friday after the sports ministers' conference in Frankfurt am Main. "I would like to promote this once again to all those involved who are currently discussing and negotiating it."