Russia accuses FIFA of overcharging on World Cup TV rights

MOSCOW — Host Russia has accused FIFA of overcharging for TV rights for next year's World Cup to cover financial difficulties.

Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said Saturday that FIFA has asked for $120 million from Russian TV channels, up from $32 million paid by Russia for the 2014 World Cup, in comments reported by state news agency Tass.

State-controlled TV channels bidding for the tournament would make a loss on the deal, so FIFA is pressing the Russian government to contribute, according to Mutko. That's "not really right," he said.

"Russia is under special conditions because when the rights for (the 2014 World Cup in) Brazil were being sold, the dollar was worth about 30 rubles and now it's just under 60," Mutko added. "You buy the rights in foreign currency, but you sell advertisements for rubles, so television is supposed to make a loss?"

FIFA lost $369 million in 2016 as corruption investigations increased legal costs and scared off sponsors, according to accounts presented Friday.

Mutko said soccer's world governing body is squeezing Russia because "if you look at their finances, you'll see that after the scandals, there are problems."

Mutko, who is also president of the Russian Football Union, sat on FIFA's governing council from 2009 until he was barred from seeking re-election this year due to his government role.

There was no immediate comment from FIFA.

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