MOSCOW: Russia is playing hardball with hard-up FIFA over the price of television rights for the domestic market for next year’s World Cup finals writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Vutaly Mutko, the Deputy Prime Minister recently bumped off the world federation’s governing council, has stepped up criticism concerning both rights for the World Cup and this year’s warm-up Confederations Cup.
The former sports minister complained that FIFA was imposing “special conditions” on the host nation for the events.
Mutko had represented European federation UEFA on the governing FIFA Council but will step down at next month’s congress in Bahrain after the eligibility review panel ruled that the role was incompatible with his political status.
Mutko, who is also president of the Russian Football Union, told TASS that because state-controlled broadcasters bidding for the tournament would make a loss on the deal, FIFA wanted the Russian government to contribute.
The Telesport agency has been negotiating with FIFA on behalf of state broadcaster VGTRK, state-controlled commercial broadcaster Channel One and privately-held broadcaster Match TV.
FIFA reportedly wants $120m for the rights, more than three times the Russian fee for rights to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Mutko said: “Russia is under special conditions because when the rights for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were being sold, the dollar was worth about 30 rubles and now it’s just under 60.
“You buy the rights in foreign currency, but you sell advertisements for rubles, so television is supposed to make a loss?”
Last week FIFA announced a loss of $369m for its 2016 financial year and projected an even bigger loss in 2017 ahead of an expected surplus on 2018 when it would recoup all its World Cup revenues.