Women's football fans can rejoice. After a long struggle, a solution is emerging in the dispute over the television rights for the World Cup. A contract that will enable ARD and ZDF to broadcast the games in Australia and New Zealand is about to be finalized.
According to information from the German Press Agency, the contractual partners of the world football association FIFA are not the public broadcasters themselves, but the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The industry service "dwdl" and "Bild" had also reported on the forthcoming agreement.
After months of disputes with public accusations, a contract is now about to be concluded that will allow both sides to save face. ARD and ZDF had previously negotiated directly through their sports rights agency SportA. Now the two broadcasters are to receive their rights from FIFA via the EBU, just like public broadcasters in other European countries. According to reports, only the last details have to be clarified, and the official announcement should be made as soon as possible. The first and the second did not want to comment on Wednesday.
"We can also show the games at FIFA"
So far, the big tournaments in Germany have been broadcast on ARD and ZDF, which also submitted the best offer for the German TV market in the tender for the 2022 World Cup. However, the offer was too small for FIFA. President Gianni Infantino publicly called for more money without giving specific figures. The only thing that is certain is that the amount involved was in the mid-single-digit millions.
Shortly before the forthcoming agreement, a FIFA spokesman said: "We are still in talks." At the same time, he emphasized that there would be "no blackout" - a tournament without moving pictures in Germany. The association's spokesman said: "We prefer coverage on public television, but we can also show the games on FIFA."
Almost five weeks before the start of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand on July 20, the fronts between the association and ARD and ZDF seemed to have hardened. ARD sports coordinator Axel Balkausky recently said at the SpoBis congress: "In the normal world you would sit down and come to a solution. But both sides have to be ready for that." Persons entrusted with the negotiations had recently stated several times that there was no progress and no real negotiations. Thanks to the trick with the EBU, a solution is now imminent.
Celia Sasic emphasizes the importance of a TV broadcast
"There has to be an agreement," said DFB Vice President Celia Sasic on Wednesday morning. "It would be a very hard blow if that didn't work." The 34-year-old ex-national player emphasized the importance of broadcasting on classic television. "It would be very, very important for women's football, for society, for the whole development, to show this tournament, to keep the visibility high."
The World Cup broadcasts brought into play by FIFA on the company's own Internet portal would not have been a problem in any case from a technical point of view. The involvement of German-speaking commentators would also be possible. However, the usual standards of ARD and ZDF with moderation, interviews and, above all, critical reporting would hardly be expected if FIFA were to be broadcast on their own. This scenario is now most likely averted.