Official broadcast partners voice concerns over FIFA World Cup plans

Opposition to FIFA’s plans for a biennial World Cup grows with official broadcast partners now voicing concerns over Gianni Infantino’s vision as beIN Sports warns you can have ‘too much of a good thing’

  • FIFA president Gianni Infantino wants to hold a World Cup every two years
  • He has been met with fierce resistance from the likes of CONMEBOL and UEFA
  • Now one of the tournament’s biggest broadcasters have voiced their concerns 

Official broadcast partners are the latest group to attack FIFA’s push to introduce a biennial World Cup.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino attended the Confederation of African Football congress in Cairo last week in a bid to drum up more support for the project, insisting it would allow ‘African football to shine on the world stage’.

However, the plan is being met with fierce resistance within the game, with both UEFA and CONEMBOL standing firm in their opposition to the idea.

Gianni Infantino faces fresh opposition to his plans to host a biennial World Cup tournament 

The number of objecting voices grew on Monday, when the beIN Media Group spoke out against it at the Leaders in Sport conference in Doha.

One of beIN’s most prominent pundits Arsene Wenger has been the figurehead for driving support for FIFA’s plans – which they argue would increase the game’s exposure around the globe.

Figures suggest that 3.6 billion people watched the World Cup in Russia in 2018, a number that analysts are confident will be surpassed in 12 months’ time when the 2022 edition kicks off in Qatar.

However, the broadcaster has argued that any move would only harm those numbers, and the allure of the governing body’s most prized asset.

Broadcast partner beIN Sports have voiced their concerns over FIFA’s plans for the World Cup

‘Those demanding two-year World Cups should be careful about pushing for “too much of a good thing”,’ beIN CEO Yousef Al-Obaidly said in his address at the conference.

‘I am telling you from experience that broadcasters value premium and exclusive products – advertisers and sponsors also think the same

‘As a result, twice as often doesn’t mean twice the value – so be careful what you wish for.’

Al-Obaidly also took the opportunity to address the issue of piracy, which continues to plague the sports media industry on a global scale.

Last month, Saudi Arabia finally lifted their ban on beIN Sports in the country – a move that resulted in the Saudi PIF-backed takeover of Newcastle to be completed.

They also sought to settle legal cases with the broadcaster – which had been banned in the kingdom for four and a half years – after beIN claimed more than $1billion (£750m) in damages. During that period, the only way to watch Premier League or World Cup matches in Saudi Arabia was through piracy.

Arsene Wenger, one of beIN Sports top pundits, has been an ambassador for the new plans 

Al-Obaidly stated that data suggests piracy is costing sports rights-holders sports $28.3bn (£21.2bn) and has called for more to be done across sport to contain the loss of revenue.

‘I stand here feeling a bit like the climate change campaigners attending COP26 – there have been lots of nice words at conferences, but barely any actions,’ he said.

‘Illegal piracy is now the biggest broadcaster in many markets. It is happening under your very noses in established markets and mature economies. In France, an anti-piracy study recently suggested 12 million French internet consumers watch live sport illegally – that’s more consumers than Canal+ and beIN SPORTS, the two main broadcasters, combined.

‘Anti-piracy needs to be elevated from the backroom to the boardroom. CEOs of federations, leagues, clubs and broadcasters should be shouting about it from the rooftops. This is not a remote problem.’

The protracted Saudi takeover of Newcastle went through after a settlement with beIN Sports

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