Just imagine: a football World Cup is taking place and the games cannot be seen live on television in Germany. No Joshua Kimmich or Manuel Neuer, no Kylian Mpappé or Lionel Messi. This is unthinkable for men, but it is for women. It is open whether the Germans Alexandra Popp and Lena Oberdorf can watch their world championship. No German broadcaster has yet acquired the broadcasting rights for the Women’s World Cup from FIFA. There isn’t much time left. The tournament starts in less than a hundred days.

The quota prospects are promising. ARD and ZDF achieved record values ​​with the broadcasts of the European Championship last summer. Almost 18 million viewers watched the final between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium. It was the most successful show in Germany in 2022.

The reason for the grievance is simple: From the point of view of the German TV broadcasters, Fifa is charging too high a price. The bidding process for the broadcasting rights “has so far been unsuccessful because there have been no offers that recognize the true value of the largest women’s football tournament in the world,” said Fifa when asked.

ZDF spokesman Thomas Hagedorn confirmed the different price expectations to the star: “ZDF’s offers for the acquisition of sports rights are based, among other things, on the market price for the respective sports right. The market value can deviate significantly from the price expectations of the rights marketers.” At the ARD one will think similarly. It is not known whether there are offers from German private broadcasters such as the RTL Group.

The positions are hardened. Infantino sees a double standard in the broadcasters’ refusal to pay the asking price and sells Fifa’s tough stance as a legitimate fight for more equality. On the one hand, you cannot demand equal pay, but then you cannot pay the corresponding prices. In his closing speech at the Fifa Congress in March, Infantino accused the broadcasters of “paying 100 times less, even though the number of viewers was only 25 percent lower”.

This is met with criticism: “The whole process is unimaginable in a men’s tournament,” said ex-national goalkeeper Almuth Schult on Deutschlandfunk. “Fifa is playing an obscene game.” Schult’s criticism is also aimed at the timeline for the sale, which was very unusual from the start. The call for tenders did not start until mid-January, and the deadline for submitting bids was 10 a.m. on February 14.

There is a simple reason why the broadcasters do not want to pay the high prices for the media rights: the tournament takes place Down Under and due to the time difference, the games all kick off in the morning German time, some even at night. This means fewer viewers and makes it difficult for broadcasters to refinance the purchase of broadcasting rights.

But time is running out. Hotels have to be ordered, flights booked and visa applications made. The sports editors have to coordinate their program with the rest of the station and plan assignments. And what happens if there is no agreement with a TV partner in Germany? So far, FIFA has not given an answer to this.

Sources: Deutschlandfunk, “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, news agency DPA