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FIFA is said to be close to reaching a television deal with Apple for a new tournament| GuyWhoKnowsThings

FIFA, soccer's world governing body, is close to a deal with Apple that would give the technology company worldwide television rights for a new, month-long major tournament. World Cup style competition for the top teams that will be playing for the first time in the United States next summer.

The deal could be announced this month, according to three people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to discuss the deal publicly because it has not yet been officially confirmed. It comes after several false starts in a competition championed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Plans to hold it in China in 2021 were thwarted due to the pandemic.

The value of the deal could be as little as a quarter of the $4 billion that FIFA had initially estimated, the people said. It is unclear whether the deal with Apple will include any free streaming rights, meaning the entire event could be available only to Apple TV+ subscribers, a factor that top FIFA executives have expressed concern about.

If the deal goes through, it would be the first time that FIFA, which will host the first expanded 48-team men's World Cup in the United States in 2026, has agreed to a single global contract. It would also represent the latest foray into soccer for Apple, which in 2022 signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal for global streaming rights to Major League Soccer.

Streaming services have become increasingly interested in live sports as they look to attract more subscribers. Peacock streamed a National Football League playoff game last season and Amazon Prime has been streaming NFL games on Thursday nights since 2022. Apple also has a deal to stream Major League Baseball games. Netflix focuses more on sports documentaries, although it recently ventured into live “sports-adjacent programming,” including a multimillion-dollar deal to air World Wrestling Entertainment’s weekly wrestling show, “Raw.” He also announced that he would broadcast a boxing match between former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and social media influencer Jake Paul in July.

FIFA hoped the tournament, which will feature a mix of successful teams from around the world, including 12 from Europe, where most of the world's top talent plays, would create huge demand from broadcasters and commercial partners. But a combination of poor planning and delays led broadcasters to reject the figures FIFA had sought. Sponsors have so far also been reluctant to commit the $150 million the organization is seeking for sponsorship packages, according to the people.

A global deal with a major company like Apple could give the tournament, which will be played every four years, the high-quality veneer that Infantino has been trying to ensure. Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, declined to comment. “As a general practice, FIFA neither confirms nor denies commercial discussions,” FIFA said in a statement.

FIFA has reserved June 15 to July 13, 2025 for the tournament to be played. This comes after the long European season, and has traditionally been a time when no major events take place to allow players to rest in the off-season a year before the World Cup. Players' unions have criticized FIFA for not consulting them before announcing the event.

FIFA also faces significant costs by holding the event in the United States, where it will act as a preparation for the World Cup. Some games will be held in large stadiums, including NFL stadiums that must be rented. FIFA had hoped to secure major sponsorship partners willing to pay as much as the $100 million that World Cup sponsors pay per cycle, but there is just over a year to go and no title partner for the event has been announced.

The deal must close soon so it can be announced before upfronts later next month, during which entertainment companies try to attract advertisers by talking about future programming.

European clubs have been lobbying FIFA for months for concrete details of the event, including the cities where it will be held and even its name. FIFA had said the event would be called the FIFA Club World Cup, but teams have now been told that is under review.

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