Japan TV Deal for Women’s World Cup Still Uncertain

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Japan women’s soccer team run at training camp in Chiba City on Tuesday ahead of the World Cup.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — With less than three weeks to go before the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on July 20, it is still uncertain whether the event will be broadcast on television in Japan.

Negotiations between the international soccer governing body and Japanese TV stations have remained in deadlock due to skyrocketing rights fees.

Until the previous tournament in 2019, broadcasting rights for the women’s event were bundled with the men’s World Cup.

Only in mid-June, European soccer superpowers, including Germany and England, were able to secure broadcast deals for the women’s tournament. Among usual Women’s World Cup participants, Japan is now the only one without such a contract.

To help pay for TV broadcasts in Japan of the upcoming event, Haruna Takata, chair of WE League, Japan’s professional league for women’s soccer, has revealed a plan to raise funds through crowdfunding.

Still, Takata admitted that it is “usually impossible for a third party to intervene” in the matter of broadcasting rights, primarily an issue between the buyers, media companies, and the seller, FIFA.

Saori Ariyoshi, who has recently become an executive of the Japan Pro-Footballers Association, said, “I wish the association could do something, but it is difficult to do much.”

Ariyoshi was a member of Japan’s female team when it finished second in the 2015 tournament, after winning the Women’s World Cup in 2011.

Although it was early in the morning when the final of the 2011 tournament was broadcast in Japan, the viewing rate was as high as 21.8%.