FIFA headquarters in Zurich. (WFI)

(WFI) ESPN, Fox and NBC are awaiting word from FIFA following Wednesday’s closed-door bidding for TV rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Executives from each of the three U.S. networks traveled to Zurich to hand over their offers to world football’s governing body.
FIFA’s decision-making Executive Committee meets Thursday and Friday, meaning a winner could be announced as soon as Friday’s closing news conference.
“I’m very optimistic as to the results,” CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer told The Associated Press ahead of the bid submissions.
“I have high expectations that the deal will see some record-breaking numbers.”
The value could rise “considerably” from the last time around, added Blazer, also the U.S. representative on the Ex-Co.
The current contract sees ESPN pay $100 million for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups with Univision pitching in an additional $325 million for Spanish-language rights. 
 
However, the time difference between the U.S. and 2018 host Russia as well as 2022 host Qatar could have tempered the bids a bit.
Qatar is seven hours ahead of the U.S. and most of western Russia is eight ahead.
By comparison, 2010 host South Africa is six ahead and most of 2014 host Brazil, considered a particularly attractive commodity during the last round of bidding, is just two ahead.
Time zones aside, each of the three candidates counts the sport among its existing properties.
ESPN, of course, is the incumbent as well as the primary broadcaster of Major League Soccer.
NBC just bought a second-tier MLS package that commits the network to football through at least 2014.
Fox, for its part, operates the country’s only 24/7 football channel and owns rights to the UEFA Champions League. 
Stay tuned for complete coverage of this week’s Ex-Co meeting, including a possible TV rights decision.


By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson

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