Apple close to finalizing deal with FIFA over TV rights for new tournament, NYT reports

FILE PHOTO: The FIFA logo is seen outside the FIFA headquarters in Zurich

(Reuters) -Soccer's global governing body FIFA is close to an agreement with Apple to give the tech company worldwide television rights for a new, month-long club tournament, the New York Times reported on Monday.

The deal with Apple could be announced as soon as this month and valued at around $1 billion, a quarter of the $4 billion FIFA had first estimated, the report said, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The potential agreement would give the company's streaming business an edge amid competition among streaming services providers to lap up rights for widely watched sporting events in a bid to add subscribers.

If the deal goes through, this would mark the first time that FIFA has agreed to a single worldwide contract, the report said.

Senior executives at FIFA, however, have raised concerns over the possibility of "free-to-air rights", which would make the event only available to subscribers of Apple TV+, according to the report. It is unclear whether the deal includes any such rights.

Sponsors have also been reluctant to commit the $150 million that FIFA is seeking for sponsorship packages, the report said.

The 32-team event will be held next year between June 15 and July 13. Usually, no major events are scheduled during this period in order to allow players to rest in the off-season a year before the World Cup, according to the report.

FIFA has faced criticism from players unions for not consulting them before making announcements about the event, according to the report.

"As a general practice, FIFA does not confirm or deny commercial discussions," a spokesperson for the governing body said in response to Reuters' request for a comment. Apple declined to comment.

(Reporting by Arsheeya Bajwa in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Shilpi Majumdar)