Asian soccer body cancels long-term broadcast deal ahead of Champions League and Asian Cup

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A broadcast rights deal signed in 2018 that promised to secure the financial future of Asian soccer for 10 years was terminated Friday.

The Asian Football Confederation said its exclusive deal through 2028 with Football Marketing Asia, known as FMA, was canceled “with immediate effect.”

The announcement comes only days before players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema start the group stage of the Asian Champions League with their Saudi Arabian clubs.

The decision also comes two weeks after African soccer’s governing body terminated its long-term broadcast deal with Qatar-based beIN Media Group.

Both Asia and Africa will begin staging their marquee men’s tournaments in January — the Asian Cup in Qatar and the African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

“The AFC’s decision takes into careful consideration the new challenges and opportunities presented by the rapidly evolving post-pandemic commercial environment,” the Malaysia-based soccer body said.

FMA was created to manage the rights in a partnership between DDMC of China and Fortis Sports from Switzerland.

Signing the deal in 2018, AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said it would “guarantee its member associations that the game in Asia has tremendously solid financial foundations from which to build.”

It was unclear Friday how close the AFC was to having a replacement deal.

“The AFC is now in the process of appointing a new exclusive commercial partner for the 2023-2028 term with more details to be announced in due course,” it said.

In Africa, beIN is preparing legal action against the Confederation of African Football for unilaterally ending a $415 million contract through 2028.


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