Imagine, if you will, that the NFL allowed each of its 32 teams to control and sell the TV rights to their home games. Imagine Daniel Snyder deciding to sell the rights the games at FedEx Field to MASN because they were the highest bidder. Imagine, then, that Snyder and MASN attempted to extort other TV companies to the rights to the games in Washington, such that the Redskins-Cowboys game was not on in Dallas. Do you think that there might be an outcry in that situation? Do you think that the episode might illustrate that allowing teams to control and sell their own TV rights is a bad idea?
That is exactly the situation that FIFA has created by not taking control of the TV rights to World Cup qualifiers. Earlier this year, there was no English language broadcast of the USA-Mexico match. Then, there was no broadcast period of the USA-Honduras match, except in a precious few bars. Now, because of a dispute between French Football Federation, its TV company, and various media companies in Ireland, the second leg of France-Ireland next week may not be on in Ireland. This match is only going to be the most important match for the Irish in at least seven years, so who on the Emerald Isle would really want to watch it?
This weekend features the first legs of the four European playoffs, the first leg of Costa Rica-Uruguay, and the final round of qualifying in Africa (including the tasty tie between Egypt and Algeria with a spot in South Africa on the line). None of these games will be on in the United States. Well done, Sepp Blatter!