FIFA ‘close to’ exclusive deal with Apple for expanded Club World Cup

Madrid, Spain. 6th Jan 2019. Real Madrid's FIFA Club World Cup seen during La Liga match between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid. (Final score: Real Madrid 0 - Real Sociedad 2) Credit: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News

Credit: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News

Football international governing body FIFA is reportedly close to a deal with Apple that could give the latter global TV rights to its planned new month-long version of the Club World Cup, according to the New York Times.

According to the NYT, citing unnamed sources, a deal with US$1 billion could be signed soon.

The new competition would run from June 15- July 13 next year, according to the NYT.

Under FIFA’s plans for an expanded Club World Cup to be held in the US next year, 32 teams will be divided into eight groups of four teams with the top two teams in each group qualifying to the knockout stage.

An agreement of the type under discussion would be a first for FIFA in signing a single global rights contract. It would also transform Apple’s position as a sports media player.

Apple currently holds rights to stream the US soccer MLS Season Pass.

According to the report, some executives at FIFA have expressed concern about all matches in the competition only being available to Apple TV+ subscribers, with potentially no matches being available free-to-view, while sponsors have been slow to commit to US$150 million in sponsorship money that FIFA is seeking around the new tournament.

FIFA has also faced strong criticism from players’ unions about lack of consultation and possible negative impacts on players’ health, particularly after the football body last year approved the launch of another annual club competition, the FIFA Intercontinental Cup.

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