FIFA, soccer’s governing body, has signed its first broadcast deal for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups with Qatar’s Al Jazeera Sport, it said on Wednesday.
The deal comes just weeks after the gas-rich Gulf emirate won the right to host the 2022 games.
The contract covers 23 territories and countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and includes broadcast and internet rights, FIFA said in a statement.
“[Fans] will now be guaranteed the very best programming of the world’s most followed sports event,” said Nasser Al Khelaifi, general manager of Al Jazeera Sport.
FIFA, which makes the vast majority of its income from selling broadcast and marketing rights to the World Cup, did not specify the value of the deal.
Commercial rights to last year’s South Africa game were sold for $3.4bn.
“FIFA’s aim is to make the World Cup as accessible to as many people around the world as possible,” said Jérôme Valcke, FIFA secretary general.
The deal with Al Jazeera Sport renews a contract the Gulf
broadcaster signed in 2009 to televise the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.
The news, however, may be met with mixed reviews from some Middle East football fans, following Al Jazeera’s difficulties with broadcasting the 2010 World Cup.
Live pictures of some matches, including the opening game, froze, leading to widespread complaints from viewers.
Al Jazeera said saboteurs in Jordan had deliberately jammed its satellite signals, a claim later denied by the Jordanian government.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.