FIFA Awards U.S. Television Rights to 2010 and 2014 World Cups For Record $425 Million

NEW YORK (AP) - FIFA awarded U.S. television rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups on Wednesday for a record $425 million the largest contract for any single country and a more than 120 percent increase from the previous American deals.

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision said it will pay $325 million $175 million more than for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. ABC and ESPN will pay $100 million for the English-language rights 2 1/2 times more than the $40 million Soccer United Marketing - an arm of Major League Soccer - paid four years ago.

The 2010 World Cup is scheduled to be played in South Africa while the 2014 tournament is designated for a country in South America.

The contracts also include Internet broadband and mobile telephone rights to the men's World Cup as well as 2007 and 2011 Women's World Cups the 2009 and 2013 Confederations Cups the Under-17 and World Youth championships the Under-20 Women's Championship and the futsal and beach soccer championships.

It is the third contract FIFA has awarded for the 2010 World Cup or beyond. The world body already has signed deals for Japan and Europe. The European deal for 2010 is worth approximately $1.2 billion.

The contracts also are a boon for Major League Soccer since they were negotiated in cooperation with the U.S. league regarding its next television contracts officials said.

Both ESPN executive vice president John Skipper and MLS commissioner Don Garber said they hope to announce within weeks or months agreements on new television deals. Garber said MLS anticipates securing rights fees.

The NBC network initially was recommended by FIFA staff to receive the combined rights but CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer an American and FIFA executive committee member asked that history and the potential to grow the game in the United States be considered.

"NBC had no history in the past 20 years of broadcasting soccer in English Blazer said. "At this point the bids by Univision and ABC/ESPN include aspects of the (U.S.) national team and the league. That was taken into account."

ESPN has broadcast MLS games since its inception in 1996 and ABC has televised the World Cup since 1994.

"It's important for FIFA and the network to work with MLS FIFA's director of marketing and television Jerome Valcke said. "Soccer is not just about the World Cup. The national team the domestic league must have exposure."

Garber said the announcement bodes well for MLS.

"This absolutely raises value of soccer as TV property in the United States Garber said. "We stand to benefit by the raised value of the sport commercially."

Following Wednesday's announcement that FIFA has awarded the English-language television rights to the Men's and Women's World Cup through 2014 to ABC and ESPN and the Spanish-language rights to Univision Major League Soccer Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing (SUM) CEO Don Garber issued the following statement:

(NOTE: SUM holds the English-language television rights to the 2006 FIFA World Cup as part of the FIFA television package acquired in 2001 which included the 2002 Men's World Cup and 2003 Women's World Cup.)

"Major League Soccer and SUM congratulate ABC ESPN and the Univision network on securing the broadcast rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.It was yet another significant step forward for the sport of soccer in the United States that five major U.S. networks were involved in making bids for English and Spanish-language World Cup television rights that increased exponentially in value since SUM acquired them in 2001. These recent developments further solidify soccer's standing and value as a major television property in the United States with even greater future potential.

"Given the strong interest displayed by several of the major English and Spanish-language networks and the belief that it was greatly beneficial to the value of soccer programming in this country SUM opted to work in close partnership with ABC ESPN and Univision throughout the FIFA bidding process.

"MLS and SUM now look forward to continuing our very positive discussions toward extending our longstanding relationship with ABC and ESPN and once again becoming part of the Univision family. These new television partnerships will provide Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation with the most important broadcast agreement in the sport's history in America. In the immediate and long-term future today's news will prove to be a historical turning point for the sport."