The business of the other FIFA

In a summer where football was destined to take a back seat leaving the light to different sports events, FIFA surprised us again. The absence of all the most important international tournaments such as the World Cup, that took place last year in Russia, has, in some sense, given more strength and awareness to the whole football movement focusing the attention on different athletes: the younger ones with the Under 20 World Cup and the women footballers, with the eight FIFA Women’s World Cup.

FIFA, Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is an international governing body responsible for the organization and oversee of different football tournaments. The most important and prestigious one is the World Cup, a tournament in which 24 different national teams compete against each other to be the best in the world. The organization and the economics behind this event are in the hands of Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, and his staff that is composed of more than 300 people. It is not an easy task to have the event as economically important as this one, the last World Cup organized in Russia had a total cost for the country of 11 Billion $, spent in infrastructures, transports, support and other operating expenses and for FIFA of about 1.984 million $. The benefits for the home country came from tourism, over 570.000 people more went to Russia during June and July, and from the increased personal income. Differently, for FIFA, the revenues were 5,357 million $ coming from ticketing and hospitality creating a net balance of over 3,000 million $. An event of this magnitude economically and non-economically speaking can only be organized every 4 years. Nevertheless, the international governing body of football must go on and find revenues in other ways. Naturally, as we could expect, the years of the World Cup are the years in which the net balance is more positive or, in the case of the last 3 year cycle, 2018 has been the only year in which the net balance at the end of the year has been positive. In order to change this negative sign, FIFA has been trying to keep the level of awareness and attention on football, and on itself, up by organizing other types of World Cups that can change this negative trend.

If the ‘real’ World Cup, the one played by the men’s national team figuring the best players in the world, won’t be happening until 2022 in Qatar, FIFA has organized other types of tournaments changing, at least for couple of months, the heroes of the sport. Neymar for some weeks won’t be the most chatted player in Brazil because Martha, often regarded as the best female player of all time, has equaled Klose’s record of goals in a World Cup and is all over the news. In Italy Insigne and Verratti haven’t been in the news as much as Pinamonti, the 20 years old wonderkid that brought the Under 20 national team to the semifinal of the World Cup. These chances that are given to other players and people are good for the football movement in general because it raises the awareness and it enlarges the audience. The good news instead for FIFA are both in the long and in the short term. As the governing body is in it for the long term, more awareness means more future revenues and possibilities. Differently, in the short-term FIFA hopes to increase the revenues coming from both hospitality for the different national teams and for the ticketing that is expected, especially in the Women’s World Cup, to reach highs that have never been seen in the women sport movement.

The premises are good, is FIFA going to be performing well enough to finally have a positive net balance in a year without the world cup? We can only wait and see