FIFA Said to Be Close to TV Deal With Apple for New Tournament

FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, is close to an agreement with Apple that would give the tech company worldwide television rights for a major new tournament, a monthlong, World Cup-style competition for top teams that will be played for the first time in the United States next summer.

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

The value of the deal might be as little as a quarter of the $4 billion FIFA had first estimated, the people said. It is unclear if the deal with Apple will include any free-to-air rights, meaning the entire event could be available only to subscribers of Apple TV+, a factor over which senior executives at FIFA have raised concerns.

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

Streaming services have become increasingly interested in live sports, as they seek to woo more subscribers. Peacock streamed a National Football League playoff game last season and Amazon Prime has been streaming Thursday night N.F.L. games since 2022. Apple also has a deal to stream Major League Baseball games. Netflix focuses more on sports documentaries, though it recently pushed into live “sports-adjacent programming,” including a multibillion deal to stream World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship weekly wrestling show, “Raw.” It also announced that it would stream a boxing match between the former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and the social media influencer Jake Paul in July.

FIFA was hoping that the tournament, which will feature a mix of successful teams from across the globe, 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 prompted broadcasters to balk at the figures FIFA had sought. Sponsors have so far also been reluctant to commit the $150 million that the organization is seeking for sponsorship packages, according to the people.

A global deal with a major company like Apple may give the tournament the veneer of high quality that Infantino has been trying to secure. Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment. A representative for FIFA did not respond to a request for comment.

FIFA has set aside June 15 to July 13 in 2025 for the tournament to be played. That comes after the long European season, and has traditionally been a time when no major events take place in order 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 playing the event in the United States, where it will act as a tuneup for the World Cup. Some games will be in large arenas, including N.F.L. stadiums which must be leased. 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 with little more than a year to go, no title partners have been announced for the event.

The deal must be concluded soon in order to be announced ahead of the upfronts later next month, during which entertainment companies try to woo advertisers by talking about future programming.

European clubs have been pressing FIFA for months for concrete details of the event, including the cities where it will be staged, and even its name. FIFA had said the event would be called the Mundial de Clubes FIFA, but teams have now been told that is under review.

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