London: FIFA’s cash reserves soared to a record USD 2.74 billion and revenue climbed to USD 6.4 billion in the four-year period covering the 2018 World Cup.
The robust financial results suggest FIFA has weathered the deepest crisis in its history, which erupted in 2015 when a United States-led criminal investigation led to the arrests and later convictions of high-ranking officials on corruption charges.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter also was deposed in a financial misconduct case that left the governing body’s reputation in tatters and caused a backlash from sponsors.
After being elected as Blatter’s successor in 2016, Gianni Infantino said that ‘FIFA was clinically dead as an organisation’.
Although Infantino’s leadership has come under criticism from within European governing body UEFA, he will be able to show the budget is in a healthy state, and he is due to be re-elected unopposed in June for a four-year term.
The 2015-18 finances obtained by this agency exceed the forecasts presented to the FIFA Congress last June. While FIFA projected cash reserves to increase to USD 1.653 billion in the 2018 World Cup cycle, it has grown to USD 2.74 billion at the end of 2018, according to people with knowledge of the finances.
FIFA’s reserves at the end of the 2014 World Cup cycle were USD 1.523 billion after generating USD 5.718 billion from the tournament in Brazil.
Amid of corruption crisis of 2015, FIFA modestly targeted raising USD five billion by the end of the Russia World Cup, a projection later raised to USD 6.1 billion.
Those expectations were eclipsed when the four-year cycle ended with revenues of USD 6.4 billion, according to the people with knowledge of the financial report, which shows profit of around USD one billion.
The record revenue was achieved despite FIFA not filling its full slate of sponsors for the 2018 World Cup. Several sponsors did not renew after the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
FIFA now proclaims it has far more rigorous system of financial controls designed to guard against further corruption scandals. FIFA rejected 201 of the 1,978 funding applications received in the four-year cycle.
FIFA is also trying to secure backing to expand the Club World Cup and develop a Global Nations League, a mini-World Cup for national teams, to further boost revenue.
But Infantino’s hopes of obtaining $25 billion in guaranteed finances from backers, including Japan’s SoftBank, have stalled over European opposition to the formats and funding.
News of the soaring FIFA reserves comes amid ongoing questions about the lack of parity for World Cup prize money between the men’s and women’s tournaments.
France earned USD 38 million from FIFA for winning the men’s World Cup last July but the women’s champion this July will earn only USD four million.