LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although the clock is rapidly dwindling, FIFA President Gianni Infantino seems slightly more optimistic about reaching what he sees as an acceptable deal for the broadcast rights to the upcoming Women’s World Cup in five key European countries.
While Infantino walked the green carpet at a gala event Wednesday night for the unveiling of the logo and branding for the 2026 World Cup at Los Angeles’ historic Griffith Observatory, the FIFA boss spoke briefly about the urgent negotiations with broadcasters in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and England for the rights to show the Women’s World Cup games taking place in two months in Australia and New Zealand.
“Some discussions have taken place, have started, I have to say, at a bit of a different level,” Infantino said. “So it is moving.”
Infantino has decried the offers made only a few weeks before, claiming they show disrespect to the women’s sport and FIFA’s ongoing attempts to level the financial playing field. FIFA has more than tripled the prize money awarded to the Women’s World Cup winners this year from the 2019 level, but Infantino said several months ago that some initial offers for the European TV rights were around 1% of the equivalent men’s broadcast rights.
Infantino said he is still determined to get more money from the largest European nations’ broadcasters because he claims it will benefit the entire women’s sport.
“I think it is important to understand here where we are coming from,” Infantino said. “We are investing in women’s football. We are here now in North America, in the United States, where it’s the home country of the world champions, where women’s football has a completely different level not only of acceptance, but also of respect. … We just want that the game is respected and that the right money is paid for that. Because whatever is paid is going back, not only 100%, but 150%, in developing the women’s game.”
FIFA traveled to the Hollywood Hills for a flashy celebration of the branding for the 2026 event, which will be held across the U.S., Mexico and Canada, including the Los Angeles area’s SoFi Stadium. Dozens of soccer luminaries including Brazilian great Ronaldo gathered for the unveiling.
The logo revealed by FIFA is simple, with a 2 stacked on top of a 6 and the World Cup trophy superimposed on them. The trophy’s image is a first for a World Cup logo, as is the use of the tournament hosting year as part of the logo itself.
Each of the 16 host cities will have its own branding with unique colors and style, FIFA announced.
Infantino’s quest is supported by Jill Ellis, the coach of the U.S. team which won the past two Women’s World Cup championships.
While Ellis said she understands why negotiations have been difficult, the numbers under debate are sometimes discouraging to see.
“Gone are the days where it’s, you know, ‘Please, please respect us, please invest in us now,’” Ellis said. “It’s like, why wouldn’t you invest in us? I think we’ve got to show value to ourselves as a global sport, so I understand that (the negotiations) have to be frustrating, given the ratings and viewership where they are. The financial thing is nowhere near that. … They’ll pay for the men’s games, right? I think we have an amazing sport. We had over a billion watch in ’19. The ratings are there. They’re in the stadiums now. It’s a little bit a little bit tough to swallow.”
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