Women’s World Cup and Euros set to be added to protected events list

The UK’s Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has revealed plans to turn the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Women’s European Championship into listed events, ensuring that they will have a future on free-to-air television in the country.

The minister has written governing bodies and broadcasters, proposing the addition of the marquee women’s sports events to the Broadcasting Act 1996 which sees certain ‘crown jewel’ events offered to the free-to-air terrestrial broadcasters on “fair and reasonable” terms.

At present, the list is made up of two groups. Group A events must be offered to the free-to-air channels and includes events such as The Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup Final and Wimbledon finals. Group B events may be sold to subscription TV channels as long as highlights are offered to free-to-air broadcasters, and includes the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and Six Nations matches involving home countries.

In his letter, Huddleston argued that the Women’s World Cup and Euros fulfil the criteria of having a “special national resonance”.

Speaking during a Parliamentary debate on women’s football, Huddleston said: “We remain absolutely committed to supporting women’s sport at every opportunity, including raising its visibility in the media, which can help improve accessibility and participation. As England prepares to host Euro 2022 this summer, the addition of the Women’s Euros and World Cup would be a fantastic long-term boost for the game.”

Some 28.1 million Brits watched the BBC’s coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, with 11.7 million people watching the semi-final between England and the US.

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