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FIFA on Wednesday announced it had struck a deal with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to televise the 2023 Women’s World Cup, avoiding a controversial blackout in the ‘Big Five’ European nations.

The deal follows a standoff between the governing body of world football and broadcasters in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom over the rights for the competition in Australia and New Zealand in July and August.

“FIFA is delighted to widen the deal with the European Broadcasting Union for the transmission of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup to include the five major markets within their existing networks, namely France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as Ukraine, thus ensuring maximum exposure for the tournament,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino on the football body’s website.

No financial details of the deal were announced.

Infantino had been critical of broadcasters in the ‘Big Five’ European countries for offering substantially less than the amount paid to show the men’s World Cup.

One stumbling block in Europe was the time difference, which means that games will often be played in what is the early morning on the continent, but Infantino said that was no excuse.

Last October, FIFA and EBU struck a deal for 28 countries. Wednesday’s expanded 34-nation list omitted the names of several European nations competing at the World Cup: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The deal with the EBU involved networks that broadcast free-to-air rather than subscription channels.

FIFA listed ARD and ZDF in Germany, BBC and ITV in the UK, France Televisions, RAI in Italy and RTVE in Spain. In France M6, which is not part of the EBU, was also announced as a broadcaster.

– ‘Most exciting and fastest growing’ –

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup is one of sport’s most exciting and fastest growing events and we are committed to working hand-in-hand with FIFA to ensure the women’s game is enjoyed by as many people as possible across the continent,” said EBU director general Noel Curran.

The Women’s World Cup will be staged in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20 and will be the first to feature 32 teams.

It will also see overall prize money for participating teams increased to $150 million, up sharply from $50 million in 2019 and a huge rise on the $15 million in 2015.

The figure still pales in comparison to the $440 million prize money at the 32-team 2022 men’s World Cup.

“We have a good product, the very best of women’s sport,” FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura told AFP last month.

“Everyone is talking about equality. We would like these words to be transformed into actions. The simplest action is to value the World Cup at a fair price. That is all we are asking for.”

ARD director Axel Balkausky had previously said his network offered a fair bid for the rights and told Germany’s FAZ newspaper broadcasters “would not allow themselves to be blackmailed”.

On Wednesday, German FA boss Bernd Neuendorf declared in a statement that he was “delighted” to be “avoiding a blackout” and have a deal that would be “of enormous importance for the further development of women’s football in Germany”.

German women’s coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg thanked “everyone involved for reaching an agreement”.

“Now we can go into the preparation phase with even more momentum and positive energy.”

In May, Germany captain Alexandra Popp accused administrators of “empty words” in the ongoing dispute, saying a World Cup blackout would be “so bad for women’s football”.

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