While World Cup fever peaks in Europe, the official FIFA/Yahoo! site offers no support — neither for national emotions nor for inconvenient game times, according to a new brief by Forrester Research B.V. (Nasdaq: FORR). Forrester believes that FIFA needs to rework its deal with KirchMedia to stream game highlights during office hours.

“With TV and streaming Internet rights to the World Cup Football Championships for 2002 and 2006 in the hands of the shaky Kirch media empire, FIFA has teamed up with Yahoo! to deliver the official 2002 Web site fifaworldcup.com,” said Forrester Analyst Diana Janssen. “The deal also covers the 2006 event in Germany. But FIFA and Yahoo! have to compete for eyeballs with the strong local brands like l’Equipe in France and the real-time streaming audio coverage of Italian RAI. The official FIFA site can’t match these titans, as it fails to support national emotions, shows when nobody is watching, and won’t accept Europeans’ preferred forms of payment.”

Producing global, near-identical sites in seven languages allows Yahoo! to keep production costs down but makes it lose against national players like sport1.de in Germany or the BBC in the UK. Also, by offering the service from 17.30 C.E.T. onward, the VIP Club does not cater to office workers. Info-hungry fans will hurry home to watch the match on TV. And, as only 4 percent of online Europeans have broadband access at home, they won’t be watching streaming video on the PC in the evenings, either. Finally, many online Europeans, especially the Germans, Swedes, and Dutch, either have no credit card or refuse to use it. To stimulate the online store, FIFA/Yahoo! need to accept invoicing as well as credit cards.

“FIFA and Yahoo! should renew the video deal with Kirch based on three principles: that the Net won’t cannibalize TV, co-branding will further raise revenues, and cooperating nationally to provide flexible payments,” Janssen added. “The original deal to delay online videos till hours after each game was constructed out of a fear of losing TV viewers, but the facts show that, in general, active Net users don’t watch less TV. FIFA and KirchMedia should use the site to whet the appetite of office-trapped fans and draw them to their TV sets after work. By allowing the national sports sites that do attract the fans, such as Marca.es, to link to the FIFA site, everybody wins — more eyeballs at FIFA, more revenues from the streaming video for KirchMedia, and a better service to the fans from local sites. On the back of the deal, large advertisers can sign multicountry contracts and national brands can spend on local advertising. And by cooperating on a national level, FIFA and Yahoo! can leave payment for merchandise to local partners.”