Photo: Matt About Money

Next month, people from all over the planet will enjoy the FIFA World Cup 2018. I, like most Venezuelans, will be one of them because, dude, this event is the sort of temporary reprieve from the daily outrage that we all deserve. But how will we even watch it? Venezuela is broke, how can a local channel cough up the dough to pay for broadcasting rights that aren’t cheap and paid in greens?

Well, turns out Venezuelans will enjoy the World Cup in all its glory, all thanks to Empresas Polar. See, Polar doesn’t own any radio or TV stations, but if that makes you doubt the news, everything will be cleared up by looking at the official list of broadcaster licences.

Polar is legit. Let me break it down for you:

Polar told marketing magazine Producto that it has offered the rights to other local channels for free, and that isn’t quite true.

FIFA first sold Latin American rights (except Brazil and the Caribbean) to Mountrigi Management Group Ltd., a subsidiary of Mexican media giant Televisa (the whole story about Mountrigi is actually more twisted than you can imagine), and Mountrigi sold the rights to each individual country. In the case of Venezuela, they sold them to Empresas Polar, which later gave them to three local private broadcasters: Venevisión, Meridiano TV and radio network Unión Radio.

For the record, Mountrigi also sold Latin American pay-TV rights to DirecTV, which is making a huge splash for the event, including regional exclusivity for 32 out of the 64 matches of the tournament.

Now, Polar told marketing magazine Producto that it has offered the rights to other local channels for free, and that isn’t quite true. Polar will be the main sponsor of the event and some of their products, those that don’t compete with World Cup official sponsors, will have a noticeable presence.

The company got those broadcasting rights three years ago, along with two other FIFA events held last year: the Confederations Cup and the U-20 World Cup (where la Vinotinto ended as the surprise runner-up).

In better times, the government would have exploited this opportunity, but now the pinch is being felt big time and there were other priorities at hand.

But what about the hegemony?

Polar offered the rights to TVes (and they agreed). In better times, the government would have exploited this opportunity, but now the pinch is being felt big time and there were other priorities at hand.

The announcement, anyhow, has provoked polarizing opinions on social media: Some pro-government voices accused Polar of embezzling money (because of control de cambio), while others defended the investment as a way to give us all a breather.

Polar’s plans can be seen either as a cynical PR stunt, or a truly noble gesture. Personally, I see this gamble as a “win-win” situation for everyone involved (including El Chiguire Bipolar), so why get worked up about it?

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