Japan coach Futoshi Ikeda believes the potential Women’s World Cup TV blackout could hurt the long-term development of the women’s game in the country.
Japan, whose Nadeshiko team won the World Cup in 2011 and reached the final in 2015, is the last major country where broadcasters have yet to strike a deal with FIFA a month out from the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
“For women’s soccer to develop in the future in Japan, it’s important we have many people watching and supporting us,” Ikeda said.
“I think it’s important that the tournament is broadcast and I really hope everyone will be able to watch. Whether it will be broadcasted or not we don’t know yet, but it is important to show it on television and I really hope everyone can watch it.”
This is the first time the rights to the Women’s World Cup have not been bundled with those of the men’s tournament and FIFA President Gianni Infantino described the initial bids from major markets as “unacceptable”.
FIFA had threatened a blackout in major European markets before reaching an agreement with broadcasters in Britain, Spain, France, Germany and Italy last week.
Fuji TV and state broadcaster NHK held the Japanese rights for the 2019 Women’s World Cup but neither would comment on the standoff with FIFA when contacted by Reuters last week.
As things stand, the World Cup games will be available in Japan but only online via the FIFA app and without Japanese commentary.
Ikeda said the broadcasting saga was unlikely to prove too much of a distraction for his squad, who have been drawn in Group C with Spain, Costa Rica and Zambia at the July 20-Aug. 20 tournament.
“No matter what the decision is, we will put on a performance as we prepared,” he added. “There might be some impact but our team won’t be overly affected.”
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