The World Cup and Money

Greg CrescimannoContributor IJune 2, 2010

World cup 2010 logo1 261x300 The World Cup and Money

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. FIFA is all about the money. (That includes their regional cousins as well, UEFA, CONCACAF, etc. )

The World Cup is one of if not the absolute biggest money maker in the world, and best of all, everybody wins – just not as much as FIFA wins. The host country, sees income in multiple ways: investment from outside businesses and governments, increased tourism, job creation, increased tax revenue, just to name a few. Vendors across the world get a slice of the money pie as well: t-shirt and jersey manufacturers, sponsors, and performers all get a quick boost with the World Cup. Local TV outlets in every single country in the world will reap advertising money. Even gambling houses will see huge rewards with an estimated $40 billion dollars being gambled on World Cup games.

But of course, FIFA takes the cake, from pieces of ad revenue, ticket sales, merchandise sales, and most of all TV broadcast rights. FIFA spends very little on putting on a World Cup (much of bill goes to the host nation and sponsors) and they get all the money – at least that’s how FIFA likes it.

It is no surprise that tournaments held in some countries do better than tournaments held in other countries. For instance, a good amount of news leading up to World Cup 2010 in South Africa has been about the unknowns that still exist even to this day. Will South African security forces be able to handle a World Cup, Is the South African infrastructure stable enough to maintain the influx of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people? None of the news, however, has been about South Africa being a contender to be the most financially successful World Cup ever (that title still belongs to the United States).

What all this leads to is just what FIFA will do next? They love their money, but they also love appearing to be the good guy – which got South Africa the World Cup in the first place. Brazil in 2014 finds itself in a similar position as South Africa in terms of being a financially successful World Cup, it’s unlikely they will take over the top spot. This isn’t to say neither South Africa nor Brazil in 2014 won’t be a huge money maker – they will – it’s just about how much FIFA loves money and are they content with making 10 billion dollars instead of making 20 billion?

My hunch says, not after South Africa. Not after the FIFA accountants go through the books and see how the numbers match up against other “stronger” host nations.

So where does this lead? To the selection of 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Selections that will be made at the end of this year. 2018 is practically a lock for a European host because it is hard to imagine the selection committee seeing three World Cups go by and not one of them being played in a European country. So that leaves 2022 wide open for the United States. The growth of soccer in the country has been astronomical of late, and FIFA is starting to recognize that. Best of all, they know that America will be the best opportunity to line their pockets with riches not even they could imagine.

Bottom line is this: Money talks.