Sports News of Saturday, 7 September 2019
Fifa general secretary Fatma Samoura has praised the leaders of Africa football federations in the wake of widespread commendation of the centralised rights to 2022 World Cup qualifiers that has ensured worldwide exposure for lesser-known teams of the continent.
Africa’s lowest ranked teams like Somalia and Djibouti hogged global football headlines this week as they enjoyed worldwide exposure following the historic streaming of their matches on the FIFA website and on Youtube.
This was made possible because of Samoura’s effort to centralise rights to the World Cup qualifiers to help African football’s governing body CAF improve the revenue it currently earns from the property to be distributed to the federations.
The Senegalese, who is the Fifa’s general delegate for Africa, wrote to the Caf member nations last month, urging them to sign a mandate that would allow Fifa to collectively sell their media rights rights for qualifying matches to the 2022 and 2026 editions.
Despite doubts in certain quarters claiming that the FIFA official was embarking on a colonization mission, the federation responded positively, unanimously agreeing to collectively sell their rights for the qualifiers for the football’s showpiece event.
FIFA subsequently invested in the production of the broadcasting feed for the games and that the initiative gave fans in Africa and around the world unprecedented access to the African qualifiers via Youtube and the FIFA website.
The initiative gave the chance for football fans across Africa to watch teams like Somalia and Djibouti in action for the first time as they chalked historic victories over Zimbabwe and Eswathini respectively in the first leg of the qualifiers.
FIFA has been hailed for its decision to centralise the rights and make it possible for the fans to watch the matches for free but Samoura insists the Presidents of the federation must share in the praise for agreeing to the decision.
“Thank you to my brothers & sisters in MAs across Africa, particularly the MA Presidents, for your trust & commitment to making these all important #WCQs accessible to the world & the millions of football fans across Africa who are so passionate about the beautiful game!,” Samoura wrote on Twitter.
“Thank you to the Presidents of Africa’s 54 MAs for trusting FIFA to centralise rights for Africa’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Today millions of football fans watched African World Cup qualifiers s on live stream on FIFA.com for the first time EVER!”
The mandate outlined how Fifa would centralise and redistribute net revenues to the member nations after deduction of relevant expenses, such as production and sales costs.
The initiative has been praised by the continent’s television rights experts who say the vast majority of the countries would be unable to sell their right on their own if it not centralised.