The broadcasting deal is part of FIFA’s efforts to grow the game in China (Getty Images)

(WFI) FIFA strikes a landmark deal with China Central Television, covering the broadcasting of its tournaments on CCTV through 2014. The agreement ensures the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in South Africa and Brazil will be broadcast free-to-air throughout China.

A FIFA statement on Thursday said China’s largest TV broadcaster made a strong commitment to show not only its flagship tournaments but also other events such as the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany and youth editions.

It is first broadcasting deal of its kind in the history of both Chinese sport and the sport’s governing body. FIFA said broadcasting free-to-air coverage of football in the world’s most populated country where it is enjoyed by hundreds of millionsof fans represented an important step in the game’s global development.

“FIFA is delighted to have reached such a significant agreement with CCTV,” FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said after the contract was signed today in Beijing.

“We believe that this is the start of a long-term cooperation that will help to further strengthen football in China PR and make it even more popular.”

Commenting on the agreement, CCTV’s deputy editor-in-chief Li Ting said: “Since its broadcast of the first FIFA World Cup match in 1978, CCTV has enjoyed over thirty years of constructive cooperation with FIFA.

“The partnership between the two organizations will further improve the quality of CCTV’s long-term strategy in covering football.”

FIFA-run tournaments in China include the 2008 Beijing Olympic football tournaments and the Women’s World Cups in 1991 and 2007.

CCTV’s 38 channels attract more than a billion viewers throughout the country. CCTV was previously the media rights holder for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and the women’s 2007 edition as well as the Confederations Cup 2009.

Draw for UAE FIFA Club World Cup

The seven participating teams in the FIFA Club World Cup United Arab Emirates 2009 will find out who they will face in the tournament when the draw is made on Thursday in Abu Dhabi.

Manchester United legend and 1966 World Cup hero Bobby Charlton will represent the reigning champions at the draw, which begins at 16.00 (local time). Ismaeil Matar, a member of the UAE senior national team, will also help decide the opposition to be faced by the three teams that begin the tournament at the quarter-final stage – Atlante FC, Pohang Steelers and TP Mazembe.

The fourth team to reach the quarter-finals will come from the competition’s opening match between Emirati champions Al Ahli and OFC Champions League winners Auckland FC. The luck of the draw will decide whether the victor in this match faces Atlante FC, TP Mazembe or Pohang Steelers, as well as deciding the other quarter-final encounter.

Spanish football giants Barcelona and Argentina’s Estudiantes de La Plata have received a bye through to the semi-finals.

Others attending the draw include: Sultan Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, honorary president of the UAE Football Association and president of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; Chuck Blazer, member of FIFA Executive Committee and president of the FIFA Club

Blatter and Mexican Football Association chief Justino Compean at a press conference (Getty Images)

World Cup organizing committee.

The tournament runs Dec. 9 to 19.

Blatter in Mexico
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has concluded his three-day trip to Mexico.

It began Monday with a meeting with Mexico President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa in Mexico City. He then met with Mexican Football Association president Justino Compean and toured the federation’s headquarters.

Commenting on his talks with the head of state, Blatter said: “We speak the same language and we share a passion for football. President Calderon and I believe that football is more than just a sport. It has a social, educational and even political dimension, and also arouses some very strong emotions.”

The move of players from South America to Europe was one issue discussed. “There are too many South American players, most of them from Brazil and Argentina, who find it all too easy to obtain a passport in the European countries they are playing in,” Blatter said after his meetings.

“I am in favour of extending the current five-year qualification period that these players have to serve before they can play for a country other than their native one.”

Blatter expressed his confidence in preparations for the 2010 South Africa World Cup and said he thought Mexico had a good chance of doing well in the tournament.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Blatter visited club sides Pachuca, one of Mexico’s biggest teams, and Santos Laguna. Also in the delegation was Jack Warner, the CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president , and FIFA vice president Julio Grondona.

In Pachuca, 60 km north of Mexico City, a sports centre bearing Blatter’s name was inaugurated.

With reporting
from Mark Bisson

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