FIFA completes World Cup TV deals

Updated: October 27, 2011, 8:49 AM ET
Associated Press

GENEVA -- FIFA finished its bumper week of World Cup business with broadcast deals worth $1.85 billion for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, the governing body announced Thursday.

The deals include an estimated $1.2 billion from United States broadcast right sales to Fox, Telemundo and Futbol de Primera Radio. Those deals were confirmed Friday.

FIFA said it also sold rights to SBS in Australia, Bell Media in Canada and IMC across the Caribbean.

Bell Media, which includes the channels CTV, TSN and RDS, took rights to soccer's biggest asset away from incumbent holder public broadcaster CBC.

"FIFA is delighted with the progress of our media rights sales to date which, coming amid austere economic times, more than confirm the strength and appeal of our competitions," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said.

The deals also confirm the lure and enduring value of FIFA's signature event after a year of financial and election scandals and negative headlines.

FIFA also came under pressure about how the 2018 and 2022 tournaments came to be awarded to Russia and Qatar last December.

FIFA said it also chose Swiss-based agency Infront Sports and Media in a tender process to handle sales across 26 Asian territories including China and India.

"Infront offered the best package for this important and very complex project both in financial as well as marketing aspects," Niclas Ericson, FIFA's director of television, said in a statement released by Infront.

Infront has long been scrutinized by FIFA's critics.

The Zug-based agency has close connections to FIFA's discredited former marketing partner ISL, which went bankrupt in 2001 and is once more at the center of allegations regarding kickbacks paid to senior FIFA officials in the 1990s.

Infront has been led since 2006 by Philippe Blatter, now its president and chief executive, who is a nephew of FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

FIFA is marketing the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in a package, after concluding two-tournament deals for the 2010-2014 finals in South Africa and Brazil.

In March, FIFA said a first wave of 2018-2022 sales raised $1.7 billion from the Middle East and parts of Asia and Latin America. Those deals earned 90 percent more than their 2010-2014 value.

FIFA's final accounts for the four-year financial cycle linked to the 2010 World Cup showed $2.4 billion in broadcast sales worldwide.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press