beIN Sports warns FIFA that biennial World Cup is not a guaranteed cash machine

December 2 – In a new blow to FIFA’s biennial World Cup proposal, broadcaster beIN Sports has opposed the plans, warning that you can have ‘too much of a good thing’.

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

In the past, FIFA supremo Gianni Infantino has acknowledged that staging a World Cup every two years won’t double revenues, but nonetheless, FIFA have gone on an aggressive PR push ever since the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) demanded a feasibility study into a biennial World Cup at congress.

The world federation has however faced staunch opposition from both UEFA and Conmebol as well as leagues around the world. Significantly, beIN Sports holds the broadcast rights to the World Cup and is also a major broadcast partner of UEFA.

Arsene Wenger, former Arsenal manager and FIFA’s salesman for the biennial revolution, is also an analyst for the Qatari broadcaster. He has said that the reluctance to embrace the idea, which would dramatically overhaul the international match calendar and proposes a 25-day rest period after the season, is an ‘emotional response’ attached to the quadrennial cycle of the tournament.

However, it is increasingly looking like the opposition is also a commercial one, which has been a key selling point of the plan to many of the world’s smaller federations who have been lured by promises and expectations of doubling their money from FIFA. This is now looks like it won’t be the case.

Last weekend Infantino told Asia’s member associations at their annual congress that the biennial proposal had only been looked at in terms of the international calendar and not the commercial viability.

FIFA under Infantino has a horrific hit rate in terms of its commercial growth planning to date. Infantino’s plan for a $25 billion sell-off of rights was derailed by the FIFA Council over lack a complete lack of transparency and information, the planned expansion of the Club World Cup has first watered down and then stalled with no date for its return, while in Africa, a FIFA driven commercial initiative saw the confederation lose a $1 billion commercial rights guarantee from Lagardere followed by a further exit of sponsor and broadcast partners. A recent report said that Infantino’s push for a biennial World Cup would result in an estimated loss to football of $8 billion.

Following the last FIFA Council meeting, Infantino relented on his plans to vote on the biennial proposal in December, saying that “consensus” was needed.

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