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US networks bid for 2018, 2022 World Cup rights

By Graham Dunbar

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 19 2011 1:12 p.m. MDT

ZURICH — Broadcasters ESPN, Fox and NBC made bids to FIFA on Wednesday for the rights to show the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the United States.

The winner of a bidding process conducted in closed-door meetings at FIFA headquarters could be announced Friday at a scheduled news conference.

Chuck Blazer, the American representative on FIFA's executive committee, said he was "optimistic" the U.S. will continue to be FIFA's most lucrative national market.

"I'm very optimistic as to the results" for the two-tournament package, Blazer told The Associated Press by telephone from New York. "I have high expectations that the deal will see some record-breaking numbers."

Blazer predicted the value would rise "considerably" from the $425 million (€309 million) FIFA earned for U.S. rights for the 2010-2014 package.

ESPN paid $100 million (€73 million) for English language rights and Univision bought Spanish-language rights for $325 million (€236 million).

FIFA earned $2.4 billion (€1.7 billion) in broadcast sales worldwide just for the 2010 tournament played in South Africa. It was packaged with the 2014 event in Brazil which is in a more attractive time zone for U.S. networks.

The latest deal is less friendly to American audiences.

The 2018 World Cup is being played in Russia and Qatar hosts in 2022. Qatar defeated the U.S. in the final round of voting in a five-bid contest last December.

FIFA announced in March that it already sold $1.7 billion (€1.2 billion) worth of 2018-2022 broadcast rights to the Middle East and parts of Asia and Latin America.

The deals were 90 percent more valuable than the same territories earned for 2010-2014, FIFA said.

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