Football Australia playing the field as Socceroos, Matildas TV rights go under the hammer


Football Australia is looking to leverage the cachet of Australia’s national teams to entice an array of potential new broadcast rights bidders ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and co-hosted Women’s World Cup a year later.

The ruling body has regained ownership of all national team content - excluding FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games - from previous holder Fox Sports and is now in the process of auctioning them off.

With FIFA announcing on Tuesday that the 2023 WWC rights were up for grabs, a tempting symmetry has emerged to pique the interest of a plethora of players, including traditional free-to-air platforms plus streaming services like Stan, Amazon, Optus, Sports Flick, Kayo and DAZN.

There is a compulsory component of free-to-air content at World Cups to comply with Australia’s anti-siphoning regulations, with traditional football home SBS holding the 2022 World Cup rights and Channel 10, Seven, ABC and Nine all potential bidders for other FA content.

FA’s hand would be strengthened further were it to follow the lead of the Saudi Sports Company, which has successfully bought back the rights for the 2024 Asian Cup finals from the AFC.

The Kingdom concluded that deal, part of a far-reaching package, on Monday.

With so much content available simultaneously, there is also potential for a single bidder to sweep up the lion’s share as FA seeks to refill coffers that have taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As things stand, FA could on-sell all Socceroos and Matildas internationals, friendlies, Asian Cups and World Cup qualifiers. The China-hosted 2024 Asian Cup finals would add significantly to that war chest.

“As of Tuesday, Football Australia has entered the market at a time where there may be a coming together of all national team rights at the same time,” said an FA spokesman.

“Following the unbundling of the Professional Leagues from Football Australia, the backlog of national team content because of COVID, the WWC 2023 on the horizon, and with the emergence of the Matildas brand, which has been underpinned by the performances of players like Sam Kerr, Hayley Raso and Caitlin Foord in the FA Women’s Super League, we believe we’ll have a very unique and exciting product compared to what our sport has been able to offer recently.”

FA also holds the rights to all Australia’s matches for the underage men’s and women’s teams.

The Matildas make their debut under new coach Tony Gustavsson when they emerge from a 13-month hibernation on Sunday away to Germany, before facing The Netherlands three days later.

The Socceroos, meanwhile, face four World Cup qualifiers in a Kuwait hub in June before the next stage of their qualifiers begin in September.