FIFA warns Europe of Women’s World Cup broadcast blackout


GENEVA — Publicly criticizing broadcasters for offering to pay too little to screen the Women’s World Cup has not worked out yet for FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who is now threatening a blackout in major European markets.

A public standoff started by Infantino last October was intensified late Monday when he warned five key countries – England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain – where deals are still not signed less than three months before the tournament starts in Australia and New Zealand.

“To be very clear, it is our moral and legal obligation not to undersell the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” Infantino said in a statement about the July 20-Aug. 20 tournament.

“Therefore, should the offers continue not to be fair (towards women and women’s football), we will be forced not to broadcast the FIFA Women’s World Cup into the ‘Big 5’ European countries.”

England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have all qualified for the first Women’s World Cup to have 32 teams, and FIFA has a standby broadcasting option with its own online streaming platform FIFA+.

Europe is FIFA’s most lucrative broadcast market with $1.06 billion in TV revenue for the 2019-22 commercial cycle, mostly tied to the men’s World Cup in Qatar.

FIFA reported total financial reserves close to $4 billion at the end of 2022 with $3.43 billion in broadcast revenue from total income of $7.57 billion in the past four years.

Infantino first aired the Women’s World Cup broadcasting issue seven months ago, when in Auckland for the official draw for the tournament. He said then that offers as low as 1% of the equivalent TV rights price paid for the men’s World Cup were “not acceptable.”

In March, for world soccer’s annual meeting in Rwanda, Infantino reported no progress with TV broadcasters while also announcing a more than three-fold increase in team prize money to $110 million for the tournament.

Infantino has been clearly rankled that player-led criticism of FIFA for not offering equal prize money – the 32 men’s teams shared $440 million prize money at the 2022 World Cup – is amplified by media he believes is undervaluing women’s soccer.

The Women’s World Cup has standalone broadcast and sponsor deals rather than being bundled with the men’s tournament – a policy started since Infantino was elected in 2016, when he pledged “continued and intensified effort” to develop the women’s game.

The FIFA leader suggested on Monday “public broadcasters in particular have a duty to promote and invest in women’s sport.”

“Women deserve it! As simple as that!” he said.

However, Infantino’s repeated criticism of European public service broadcasters has included Britain’s BBC which regularly broadcasts domestic women’s games live. The BBC’s sports department has been led by a woman, Barbara Slater, for 14 years.

Asked for a response on Tuesday to Infantino’s threat, the BBC said it did not comment on sports negotiations.

This Women’s World Cup is far from an ideal time zone for European broadcasters. Daytime games in Australia and New Zealand play in the early hours of the morning in Europe, though Infantino said that was not an excuse.

Acknowledging it was not primetime in Europe, Infantino noted the European kickoff times of 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. “is quite a reasonable time” for viewers.

“It doesn’t make any economic sense because the viewing figures are there,” he added.

At the 2019 Women’s World Cup hosted by France, FIFA claimed a total global audience of 1.12 billion for the 52-game tournament across all broadcast platforms.

A verified average live audience of 82 million viewers watched the 2019 final with 263 million people watching at least one minute of the United States’ victory over the Netherlands.

While FIFA is playing hardball with broadcasters, European soccer body UEFA took a different approach to build an audience for its annual Women’s Champions League competition – giving games away for free on YouTube.

UEFA signed a four-year deal in 2021 with streaming platform DAZN that ensured fans in Europe could watch the first two seasons on YouTube. Some games will also be free for the next two seasons.

Many European countries are already assured of seeing most or all of the 64-game Women’s World Cup on free-to-air channels.

The European Broadcasting Union announced a collective 28-nation deal with FIFA in October that covers Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Switzerland and Turkey. The value was not disclosed.

FIFA’s policy of separate deals for the women’s tournament previously made headlines this year when soccer and public officials in Australia and New Zealand objected to planned sponsorship by the Saudi Arabia tourism board. The “Visit Saudi” campaign previously paid FIFA to support the men’s World Cup in Qatar.

Infantino said in Rwanda the talks had not proceeded to a contract, and suggested critics of the projected deal had a double standard given the value of Australia’s annual trade with Saudi Arabia.

Indonesia stripped of hosting U20 World Cup by FIFA

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GENEVA — Indonesia was stripped of hosting the men’s U20 World Cup on Wednesday only eight weeks before the start of the tournament amid political turmoil regarding Israel’s participation.

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FIFA said Indonesia was removed from staging the 24-team tournament scheduled to start on May 20 “due to the current circumstances” without specifying details.

The decision came after a meeting in Doha between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Indonesian soccer federation president Erick Thohir.

Israel qualified last June for its first U20 World Cup. But the country’s participation in Friday’s scheduled draw in Bali provoked political opposition this month.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, while publicly supporting the Palestinian cause.

Indonesia’s hosting was cast into doubt on Sunday when FIFA postponed the draw.

It is unclear who could now host the tournament, which was scheduled to be played in six stadiums in Indonesia. Argentina, which did not qualify for the tournament, is reportedly interested in hosting.

“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged,” FIFA said.

The Indonesian soccer federation could be further disciplined by FIFA. A suspension could remove Indonesia from Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, which starts in October.

FIFA seemed to remove all blame Wednesday from Thohir, the former president of Italian club Inter Milan – the team Infantino supports – and a former co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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FIFA staff will continue to work in Indonesia in the months ahead, the governing body said, “under the leadership of President Thohir.”

Soccer and public authorities in Indonesia agreed to FIFA’s hosting requirements in 2019 before being selected to stage the 2021 edition of the U20 World Cup. The coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to be postponed for two years.

But Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Tuesday evening that his administration objected to Israel’s participation. He told citizens that the country agreed to host before knowing Israel would qualify.

Israel qualified by reaching the semifinals of the U19 European Championship. The team went on to lose to England in that final.

Israel plays in Europe as a member of UEFA after leaving the Asian Football Confederation in the 1970s for political and security reasons.

FIFA bills the men’s U20 World Cup as “the tournament of tomorrow’s superstars.”

Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba are previous winners of the official player of the tournament award, and Erling Haaland was the top scorer at the 2019 edition.

FIFA World 11 analysis: Who made it? Who missed out?


FIFA have revealed the 11 players who made their FIFPro men’s World XI for 2022 and there is plenty of debate regarding the selections.

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A reminder: the 11 players selected are voted for by FIFPro members, who are professional players across the globe. Players from over 68 leagues voted and 18,640 votes were collected.

The 3-3-4 formation is unique in itself and some of the players included in this list have definitely had a rougher start to 2023.

A very important reminder: these selections are based on form for club and country from August 8 2021 to 18 December 2022. So, the entire 2021-22 campaign and then the first half of the 2022-23 season up until the end of the World Cup.

Below is the FIFA FIFPro World 11 for 2022, with some analysis on the players who made it and some who should have been very close to making it.

FIFA World 11 team for 2022

Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid, Belgium)

Joao Cancelo (Manchester City/Bayern Munich, Portugal)
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, Netherlands)
Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain, Morocco)

Casemiro (Real Madrid/Manchester United, Brazil)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
Luka Modric (Real Madrid, Croatia)

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund/Manchester City, Norway)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina)

FIFA World 11
Getty Images

Analysis on selections

Given his heroics in the UEFA Champions League final it is tough to argue that Thibaut Courtois didn’t deserve to be named as the goalkeeper but Emiliano Martinez and Alisson also had a fine last 16-month period. Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Ederson are always going to be in this conversation too.

Defensively, both Joao Cancelo and Virgil van Dijk have struggled in recent months so it’s strange to see them in there. That said, think about how good Cancelo was for Manchester City as they surged back to win the Premier League title last season. And also, how dominant was Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool almost won the quadruple?

Other defenders who could have made this list include Real Madrid and Brazil defender Eder Militao, plus his teammates David Alaba and Antonio Rudiger. Chelsea’s Reece James has also been sensational, as was Liverpool’s Joel Matip until the final few months of 2022, Ruben Dias of Manchester City and Portugal and Croatia and RB Leipzig star Josko Gvardiol has also been consistently excellent.

In midfield, you can’t really argue with that trio. Casemiro has been immense since joining Manchester United and was crucial in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League and La Liga title success to round off the 2021-22 campaign. So too was Luka Modric and he led Croatia to third-place in the World Cup as he continues to roll back the years and defy logic with his incredible engine. Kevin de Bruyne boggles the mind on a weekly basis with his brilliance for Manchester United.

A few players who would be worth a shout in midfield: Pedri and Gavi from Barcelona/Spain, Rodrigo Bentancur from Tottenham/Uruguay, Bruno Fernandes from Manchester United/Portugal, Aurelien Tchouameni from Real Madrid/France, Bernado Silva from Manchester City/Portugal and Rodri from Manchester City/Spain.

Up front, the four forwards are hard to look past. Benzema had an incredible year and Haaland and Mbappe continue to show they are the future of the game. Then there’s Lionel Messi. For his heroics at the 2022 World Cup as he led Argentina to glory, he was always going to be in this team.

Perhaps Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski and Vinicius Jr were the next three up when it comes to forward selections and all three were very unlucky to miss out. So too was Sadio Mane as he had an incredible season with Liverpool and then was on fire when he joined Bayern Munich before his untimely injury saw him miss the World Cup. A special mention for Heung-min Son too. He was superb for Spurs in the 2021-22 campaign and pivotal for South Korea at the World Cup even with an injury and a dip in form to contend with.

Real Madrid vs Al-Hilal: Watch Club World Cup Final, updates, score, videos


Real Madrid face Al-Hilal in the Club World Cup final in Morocco on Saturday, as the reigning European champions are the heavy favorites to be crowned as the top team on the planet.

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Carlo Ancelotti’s side beat Al Ahly 4-1 in their semifinal to set up the final against Asian champions Al-Hilal in Rabat.

Real Madrid are already the most successful team in the history of this competition (four titles) and Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde were all on the scoresheet in their semifinal romp.

As for Al-Hilal, the Saudi Arabian champs beat Brazilian giants Flamengo 3-2 in their semifinal as several stars from Saudi Arabia’s World Cup roster shone, with Salem Al-Dawsari scoring twice.

This is Al-Hilal’s first appearance in the Club World Cup final and they are the first team from Saudi Arabia to reach a final.

[ LIVE: Club World Cup Final analysis, updates, stats ]

Here’s everything you need for Real Madrid vs Al-Hilal in the FIFA Club World Cup final.

How to watch Real Madrid vs Al-Hilal live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: FS2 in the USA
Online: Stream via
Live updates, stats, analysis: Via, here

FIFA’s 2022 global transfer report reveals Premier League dominance, rise of MLS fees


FIFA have released their global transfer report for 2022 and there are some intriguing findings, especially when it comes to the Premier League and the domestic game in the United States of America.

We all love talking about, and dissecting, transfers and now FIFA have taken a deep dive to reveal the themes and patterns from every transfer around the globe in 2022.

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England once again came out on top in terms of the most money spent on transfers by a single country, with almost $2.2 billion spent. For the first time in history a single country, led by clubs across the Premier League, spent over $2 billion on new players.

Six of the top 10 player transfers of 2022 were conducted by Premier League clubs with Darwin Nunez, Antony, Casemiro, Erling Haaland, Alexander Isak and Luis Diaz the most expensive signings in terms of the fixed transfer fee. Also, 11 of the top 16 clubs in Europe (in terms of their transfer spending in 2022) were from the Premier League.

Looking elsewhere around the globe, Brazil and France continue to be the two countries who produce incredible amounts of money from selling players with over $843 million spent on players from Brazil alone in 2022. In terms of spending by association, the USA ranked at No. 8, ahead of both Brazil and Portugal in terms of transfer fees spent in 2022.

MLS clubs also dominated transfer fees spent in the CONCACAF region, with seven of the top 10 clubs in terms of spending hailing from the USA as Charlotte FC, Chicago Fire, Orlando City and Atlanta United led the way. Clubs from the CONCACAF region also received almost $142 million from UEFA clubs for their players, which ranked second behind South America in terms of the transfer funds received for players moving to UEFA from a different confederation.

Below are some big takeaways from the fascinating report, which you can read in full here.

Biggest player transfers of 2022

Top nationalities by total transfers, transfer fees

Top associations by transfer spending, transfer fees received

Number of transfers and transfer fees by confederation

Top spending clubs from UEFA

Top spending clubs from CONCACAF

Streams of transfers within and between confederations