UEFA today unveiled a series of media rights deals for the European qualifiers of UEFA EURO 2016 and the FIFA 2018 World Cup. General Secretary Gianni Infantino provided details of the deals while speaking at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester.
UEFA announced an exclusive agreement for the media rights to the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers, with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) guaranteeing extensive free-to-air coverage of the respective national teams' home and away matches in 30 territories:
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, FYROM, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.
UEFA also announced a deal with TV-Broadcasting Company Ukraine in Ukraine.
CAA Eleven is marketing the centralised commercial rights to the European qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, along with the 24-team UEFA EURO 2016 final tournament, on UEFA's behalf.
Mr Infantino said: "We have received a very enthusiastic response from broadcasters, a response that went beyond what we were expecting. We thought that they may be only interested in covering their own national team but we have seen that when Germany play, when Spain play, when France play – football fans want to watch them wherever they are."
Mr Infantino reiterated UEFA's commitment to the promotion of national team football. He said: "Raising the attraction of national team football is the biggest sporting evolution undertaken by UEFA since the creation of the UEFA Champions League in 1992. There is only one football not two footballs, club and national teams. We simply need to find the right balance between them. The feeling we had was qualifying matches are squeezed in between club matches and we have taken measures to address this. We have come up with ideas to embrace national team football."
In that regard, UEFA also launched the new brand for the European qualifiers at Soccerex. Mr Infantino officially unveiled the new brand identity, which will be applied to the European qualifiers for the UEFA EURO and FIFA World Cup. It depicts a national team shirt and a heart in conjunction and the brand essence of 'play with heart' is a distillation of how the brand is positioned. The brand evolves from the vision of the European qualifiers, which is to inspire pride in national team football.
The brand will provide the European qualifiers with a unique identity applied across a wide range of promotional applications. Comprehensive brand guidelines and interactive broadcast toolkits will be developed supporting applications into print, broadcast and digital. The official European qualifiers website was unveiled today at UEFA.com with social media launches to follow.
UEFA also took the opportunity at Soccerex to provide more details of the 'Week of Football' concept for the European qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with matches taking place from Thursday to Tuesday. Kick-off times will be largely set at 18.00CET and 20.45CET on Saturdays and Sundays and 20.45CET for Thursdays, Fridays, Mondays and Tuesdays. On double-header matchweeks, teams will play on Thursday and Sunday or Friday and Monday or Saturday and Tuesday.
Mr Infantino said: "Fans will have the opportunity to view more matches than ever before. The fact that we spread the European qualifiers over several days as opposed to all teams playing on the same day will also ensure a better visibility for the competition. Each day of the 'Week of Football' will have eight to ten matches as opposed to 20-30 matches on the same day."
The UEFA General Secretary provided more details on the continent-wide final tournament for EURO 2020. Mr Infantino said: "The fans of 13 countries can see a EURO live in their own countries. For those fans in other countries, it will be easier to travel to see the matches too than just to one or two countries.
"Teams will play at least two matches at home and each group will have two host cities and the distances between these will be a maximum of a two hours' flight. We are working to make sure that the logistics will make it easier for fans to travel than ever before. In EURO 2020 we will have a 60-year anniversary, 53 countries, 24 teams, 13 host cities but one common language, and that language will be football."
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