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New format to decide Asia’s Women’s Olympic qualifiers

Matildas

The battle for the final two spots to join hosts and reigning Asian champions Japan, at the Women’s Football Tournament at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 will be decided in a new and innovative qualifying tournament.

The Continent’s remaining women’s sides will learn their fate in the Asian Qualifiers Final Round Draw at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The revamped qualifying format for the 2020 edition will see the eight remaining teams divided into two groups, with the top two sides advancing to the two-legged play-offs to decide the final two Asian qualifiers.

This will give the Continent’s elite teams the opportunity to play their most significant matches in front of their home fans.

After two qualifying rounds of captivating action, the initial cast of 18 was whittled down to three with Myanmar, Vietnam and Chinese Taipei joining Australia, China PR, DPR Korea, Korea Republic and Thailand who reached the final round automatically as the highest ranked teams during the first round of qualifiers.

Following the outcome of the latest FIFA Ranking released on September 27, 2019, the Continent’s top-ranked sides Australia and DPR Korea will be placed in Pot 1, joint hosts for the final round, China PR and Korea Republic are in Pot 2, followed by Vietnam and Thailand in Pot 3 and Chinese Taipei and Myanmar confirming their places in the final pot.

The Asian Qualifiers Final Round will take place from February 3 to 9, 2020 with the two-legged play-off scheduled to take place on March 6 and 11, 2020.

Football at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will commence with the women’s matches on July 22 – two days before the Games’ official opening ceremony – with the men’s competition to begin on July 23. The 12-team women’s tournament will conclude on August 7, with the men’s tournament to conclude the following day.

Asian teams have established a long and proud tradition at the Olympic Games, with China PR (1996) and Japan (2012) winning silver in the women’s tournament, while Japan (1968) and Korea Republic (2012) clinched the bronze medals in the men’s competition.

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Economic returns predicted for biennial FIFA World Cup

biennial FIFA World Cup

Two independent studies have suggested that FIFA’s economic situation would be dramatically improved if both men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups switch to a biennial format.

The findings, from Nielsen and OpenEconomics, were presented in front of 207 of a possible 210 of FIFA’s member associations (MAs). The presentation took place at the FIFA Global Summit and was staged as the ‘latest step in the future of football’.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino:

“We have been advised by independent experts that a switch to a biennial FIFA World Cup would provide a combined additional USD 4.4 billion in revenue from the first four-year cycle, with these funds being distributed across our 211 member associations,” he said.

“This additional revenue would allow solidarity funding to move from the current level of USD 6 million per cycle to up to potentially USD 25 million on average per FIFA member association in the first four-year cycle, with the actual distribution being subject to FIFA’s governance principles.”

Based on the findings, the following economic boosts would occur:

  • A USD 3.5 billion (4.9 billion AUD) solidarity fund would be established with revenues to be distributed to all MAs, to inject an average of up to USD 16 million (22 million AUD) to every MA, while also retaining a capacity to mitigate against any financial shortfalls suffered by any MA due to the international match calendar changes.
  • FIFA’s Forward distribution for every MA would increase by 50% to USD 9 million (12 million AUD) per cycle.

  • The overall uplift for world football would be in the region of USD 6.6 billion (9.1 billion AUD) in the first four-year cycle.
  • A biennial cycle for the men’s World Cup would produce a gross domestic product (GDP) gain of more than USD 180 billion (249 billion AUD) over a 16-year period, while generating two million full-time jobs.

FIFA Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger:

“FIFA’s commitment to the future of football remains resolute, as we want to give every talent a chance, and to create the right environment to deliver on that promise through our competitions,” he said.

“We want to reorganise the international match calendar, especially to promote and improve football, while respecting all stakeholders – and that begins with the players themselves, by introducing a mandatory rest period.”

As part of his plan, national-team fixtures would be grouped together under a new international match calendar, leading to less travel for the players.

FIFA is planning for more consultations with confederations and MA’s early this year, with the opportunity to explore the idea in further depth.

FIFA’s commercial partnership structure unlocks opportunities

FIFA has introduced a new commercial partnership structure that will provide companies worldwide with increased opportunities to partner with soccer.

For the first time in eight years, FIFA has introduced a new commercial partnership structure that will provide companies worldwide with increased opportunities to partner with soccer.

Three partnership variables have been launched which include women’s football, men’s football and Esports/gaming. As a starting point, brands will now be able to negotiate dedicated partnerships with women’s football and Esports.

FIFA are building on their Women’s Football strategy implemented from 2018, by launching a dedicated women’s soccer commercial vertical to show their commitment to making soccer more accessible for women and girls across the globe. Their main aim from this vertical is to accelerate the growth and equality of the women’s game.

As for opportunities that provides for Australia, it could be a key driver for broadening the business side in women’s soccer, as well as the ever-growing Esports.

FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman:

“This marks a groundbreaking moment to maximise the growth of the women’s game and its marketing appeal, as we create equal commercial models across Women’s and Men’s Football for the first time,” she said.

“We’re excited about the opportunities for brands who want to support women’s sport, help accelerate women’s equality, and wish to align themselves with the unparalleled momentum around women’s football.”

A dedicated partnerships structure for Esports will allow FIFA to further broaden its gaming footprint. The structure provides exciting opportunities to participate in one of the world’s fastest growing markets.

Overall, FIFA’s new partnership structure includes the following:

  • All partners will receive extensive global commercial rights across national team tournaments.
  • Sponsors will receive global activation rights surrounding the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the FIFA World Cup and/or across all FIFAe competitions.
  • Tournament Supporters will be able to select territorial activation rights for any of the above listed tournaments.
  • FIFA partners continue to hold the highest level of association with global partner status and category exclusivity across competitions.
  • FIFA’s new commercial approach will enable brands to benefit from new opportunities to associate with FIFA’s brand for business-driven purposes

FIFA Chief Commercial Officer, Kay Madati, on the impact these changes will make:

“As we continually work to make football truly global, accessible and inclusive, we recognised the need for a nimble and customisable commercial structure that enables brands big and small, global and local, to connect with all aspects of the beautiful game,” he said.

“The new model will allow our partners to create more tailored programming and marketing activations that align directly with their strategic business goals, and connect them to the world’s most passionate fans, in the world’s most engaging sport.”

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