From The Guardian, July 10th, 2018
Written by Martha Kelner
If the home nations submit a bid to host the 2030 World Cup, the government must not bow to pressure from Fifa and amend its laws protecting the tournament’s TV rights from being sold to the highest bidder, parliament will be told on Wednesday. Just hours before England take on Croatia in the World Cup semi-final there will be an adjournment debate in parliament to discuss listed sporting events, those protected for free-to-air television. After the doomed bid for the 2018 World Cup, it emerged that the government had indicated it was prepared to kowtow to Fifa and pledge there would be no restrictions on TV coverage of the tournament.
This was despite an inquiry led by the former FA executive director David Davies into listed events which recommended the entire World Cup be protected by legislation for free-to-air broadcasting. TV audiences on BBC and ITV for this World Cup have been enormous with England’s quarter-final victory over Sweden watched by almost 20m on the BBC and the last-16 match against Colombia, screened on ITV and reaching 24m viewers at its peak during the penalty shootout.
The backbench Labour MP John Grogan will argue that the World Cup must remain protected by the listed events legislation which dates back to the 1950s. “This is a British success story which we must preserve for future generations so that they too can be inspired by the very best in the world of sport,” he said.
Over the next 12 months the FA will consider whether to submit a bid for the 2030 tournament and there is the possibility it could also join forces with the football associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to submit a united bid.
Grogan will also use the parliamentary debate to suggest that the World Cups for women in football, rugby and cricket should be added to the list of protected events to recognise their increased popularity among the public. It is currently only the male World Cups in those sports which fall under the government legislation.
Presently, free-to-air means a TV channel which is free and covers 95% of the population.