LOS ANGELES (AP) – Even as the clock is ticking fast, FIFA President Gianni Infantino seems a little more optimistic about reaching what he sees as an acceptable deal for broadcast rights to the upcoming Women’s World Cup in five key European countries.
As Infantino walked the green carpet at a gala event on Wednesday night to unveil the logo and branding for the 2026 World Cup at Los Angeles’ historic Griffith Observatory, the FIFA chief 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 matches that take place in two months in Australia and New Zealand.
“Some discussions have taken place, have started, I must say, on a slightly different level,” Infantino said. “So it’s moving.”
Infantino has rejected the offers just weeks before, claiming they show a lack of respect for 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 2019 levels, but Infantino said several months ago that some initial offers for the European television rights were around 1% of the corresponding men’s broadcast rights.
Infantino said he remains determined to get more money from Europe’s biggest nations’ broadcasters because he claims it will benefit women’s sport as a whole.
“I think it’s important to understand here where we’re coming from,” Infantino said. “We are investing in women’s football. We are here now in North America, in the United States, where it is the home of the world champions, where women’s football has a completely different level, not only of acceptance, but also of respect. … We just want the game to be respected and the right money to be paid for it. Because whatever is paid, not just 100%, but 150% goes back into the development of 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 United States, Mexico and Canada, including the Los Angeles area’s SoFi Stadium. Dozens of football fans, including Brazilian great Ronaldo, gathered for the unveiling.
The logo unveiled 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 host 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 backed by Jill Ellis, the coach of the US team that won the last two women’s World Cups.
While Ellis said she understands why negotiations have been difficult, the numbers under debate are sometimes disheartening to see.
“Gone are the days where it’s, you know, ‘Please respect us, please invest in us now,'” Ellis said. “It’s like, why wouldn’t you invest in us? I think we have to show value to ourselves as a global sport, so I understand that (negotiations) must be frustrating given the viewing figures and viewership where they are. The financials are nowhere near that. … They pay for the men’s game, right? I think we have a great sport. We had over a billion views in ’19. The ratings are there . They’re in the stadiums now. It’s a little bit hard to swallow.”
AP Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports