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FIFA excluded ESPN and Univision from World Cup 2026 bidding


ESPN and Univision have officially confirmed what World Soccer Talk revealed earlier today that neither TV network had been notified that the FIFA TV rights for 2023-2026 (including FIFA World Cup 2026) were being handed to FOX Sports and Telemundo instead of going through the typical closed bidding process.

Presumably, the TV rights for 2023-2026 were handed to FOX Sports and Telemundo as a makegood for the soon to be announced switching of World Cup 2022 from summer to fall or winter. Neither FOX, FIFA or Telemundo have denied the claim.

On Friday, a FIFA spokesperson said that the agreement with FOX Sports and Telemundo was “the result of a detailed assessment of the market and discussions with the relevant broadcasters.” However, ESPN and Univision confirmed today that they weren’t included in the process.

“We were not invited to be involved in this process,” read a statement from ESPN. “Considering the high quality presentation that ESPN demonstrated and the exposure we brought to FIFA events through all our platforms, it was surprising and disappointing to learn of this when the press release was issued.”

ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup broke numerous records, while their coverage was critically acclaimed.

Univision, meanwhile, broke several records for Spanish-language broadcasts.

MORE — FIFA sentences USA to 4 more years of FOX World Cup coverage

“We were not invited to participate in the process and find it curious that FIFA would think keeping the #1 Hispanic media company in the U.S. out of a competitive bidding process is good for the growth of Soccer in the U.S.,” said a Univision spokeswoman.

When words such as ‘curious,’ ‘surprising’ and ‘disappointing’ are used in official announcements from broadcasters such as ESPN and Univision, you know that the broadcasters must have been as shocked as we were when the news was announced.

FIFA (and presumably FOX Sports) will hope that the story is quickly swept under the rug and that by the time 2026 rolls around that we will have long forgotten how FOX and Telemundo ended up getting the rights. But knowing soccer fans, many of whom have long memories, they won’t forget how ESPN and Univision got cheated out of bidding on the rights for 2026.


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  1. Yespage

    February 13, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Can FIFA be stripped of the World Cup?

  2. Rick

    February 13, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Terrible- sounds like another FIFA scam just like handing the World Cup to Qatar. What a joke.

    • San Fransiscan

      February 13, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      FWIW, Qatar can handle a world cup. However, the players can’t handle the weather.

      • Mysterious J

        February 14, 2015 at 12:19 am

        As long as Qatar has slave labour building stadia, they can handle a world cup!

      • CTBlues

        February 14, 2015 at 4:36 pm

        Did those slaves build more airports and railroads and paved Roads and a weather machine to make Qatar not a desert?

  3. GallipoliVC

    February 13, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    A sad, sordid state of affairs. One would think FIFA would have included this in the previous bidding process. Just another reason why Sepp Blatter needs to go. I would hope there is a legal recourse for ESPN, if not, then this will likely destroy any cooperation between Fox and ESPN. Maybe we dont have to worry about a joint BPL bid after all… As for FOX, I guess we will have to learn to like dumbed down soccer coverage.

    • Toby

      February 13, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Why does ESPN get legal recourse how are they involved in this at all. They obviously don’t care about this or else they would have bid more in 2011. They expected to get it back after their mistake and now there butthurt.By your logic any network that wanted the rights can sue now. In fact why don’t FOX or ESPN sue the IOC for extending the Olympic rights to NBC. Also how do you know the coverage will be bad, did you expect ESPN coverage to be good in 2010 after there sh&tshow in 2006. ESPN doesn’t care about soccer only the NBA and NFL. At least now all WC matches will be on a broadcast network

      • GallipoliVC

        February 14, 2015 at 10:56 am

        In my opinion ESPN and others would have a recourse for being unable to bid on the broadcast rights. As for the Fox coverage, have you watched any of Fox’s CL coverage or FA Cup coverage? The studio show is bland and tasteless, their analysts know absolutely nothing about the game. In the past when they have used their own commentators for matches it has been a disaster, i.e. Gus, John Strong doing Europa League. ESPN’s coverage last year was superb, they learned from their mistakes and delivered the best US coverage of a WC to date. Fox does not learn, they continue to force feed us dumbed down football. By the way, not all matches will be on the broadcast Fox, they have NASCAR and baseball commitments as well, I would say most matches will be on FS1

      • Eric

        February 18, 2015 at 1:32 pm

        Wow, are you seriously defending Fox? The worst of the worst.

  4. Ivan

    February 13, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Aaah. FIFA: the gift that keeps giving: the most corrupt international organization in the history of mankind…

    Did anyone say Gus Johnson:”Shoots! Scores!” (barf), gotta work on my Spanish then…

  5. Mysterious J

    February 13, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    This was 100% payola for accepting a winter World Cup in 2022.

    I love the game and have been following international soccer for almost exactly 30 years, but I have had it with the corruption. After the upcoming Copa America in the US, I will turn my back on international soccer once and for all.

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