The 2SPORT2 consortium has today (Friday) sealed rights in Russia to the 2018 Fifa World Cup national team football tournament.
The announcement by world football’s governing body ends a long-running process to strike a deal in the tournament’s host nation.
The 2SPORT2 consortium includes state-backed broadcasters Channel One, VGTRK and Match TV. Rights have been awarded on a platform-neutral basis, allowing fans to consume television, internet, mobile and radio coverage of the World Cup.
Fifa’s chief commercial officer, Philippe Le Floc’h, said: “The Russian consortium of broadcasters did a fantastic job of transmitting the Fifa Confederations Cup 2017 this summer in the host territory, and we know that they will help to convey the special atmosphere that we will enjoy in Russia next summer.”
Earlier this month, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Vitaly Mutko, said he was confident a rights deal would be struck for the 2018 Fifa World Cup before the end of the year.
Mutko, who is chair of the organising committee for the national team tournament and also serves as president of the Russian Football Union, provided an update to the situation ahead of the draw for the finals next summer.
Alexander Fayfman, general producer of Channel One, last month said no progress had been made on securing a rights deal for the World Cup, adding that the negotiating parties were still seeking a compromise.
A rights deal for June’s Confederations Cup, effectively a dress rehearsal for the World Cup, was only agreed with 2SPORT2 six days before the start of the tournament.
Financial terms behind today’s deal were not disclosed but in July, Mutko said Fifa wanted Russia to pay more than double what the country was willing to spend on broadcast rights for the World Cup. Mutko said that Fifa had asked for $110m (€95m) for the rights to the tournament, while Russian-backed media could only afford to pay between $38m and $40m. Mutko added that television advertising income in Russia is lower than in other countries.
Speaking today, Mutko told state news agency Tass: “As we anticipated and announced, the issue was resolved before the end of this year. All the related issues were resolved, there were small nuances left and now the decision is made.”