The World Cup may be the world’s most-watched sporting event, but U.S. military personnel serving overseas may not be among the hundreds of millions with their eyes on the games.
Just four days before the games kick off Friday in South Africa, the Armed Forces Network, which provides television services to U.S. military installations around the world has yet to secure permission to show the World Cup.
“The American Forces Network Broadcast Center (AFN-BC) is actively working the clearance process to obtain the necessary international distribution permissions to broadcast the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa on AFN,” according to a statement on the network’s website.
The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday that the network has been negotiating with FIFA for more than two years to get broadcast rights to the games.
According to the Stripes report, the hang-up is money. The Armed Forces Network does not pay for programming, and paying for the World Cup could jeopardize its access to other events and programming.
Troops want to see the games.
“Is the world cup going to be on afn.... and if not why,” one wrote on AFN’s Facebook page.
“It’s something incredible that soldiers get a chance to see in addition to every other cultural nuance that happens while exposed to new places and people,” Army Staff Sgt. Michael Simion who is stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, told Stars and Stripes.
AFN vows to keep working on a deal, right up until the U.S. team kicks off against England on Saturday.
“Keep listening and watching AFN for updates,” it’s web page says. “If and when the AFN-BC is granted permission to distribute, you can bet we'll get the word out quicker than a penalty kick!”