FIFA earned record revenues of $7.5 billion in the four years of commercial deals tied to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the governing body of soccer said Sunday.
The last three sponsors — two American and one from the Middle East — were announced hours before the opening game: YouTube, Visit Las Vegas and Fine Hygienic Holding, all in the third-tier category of regional sponsors.
The late arrivals to complete the slate of World Cup sponsors helped lift FIFA’s four-year income to more than $1 billion ahead of the previous commercial cycle linked to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The numbers were revealed Sunday at a closed-doors meeting of more than 200 FIFA member federations whose cash grants from the Switzerland-based soccer body have risen sharply since Gianni Infantino was elected in 2016.
The extra income was buoyed by commercial deals with state-backed companies in the gas-rich World Cup host country. Qatar Energy joined as a top-tier sponsor, and new third-tier sponsors include Qatari bank QNB and telecoms firm Ooredoo.
Key broadcast deals for this year’s World Cup were signed during Sepp Blatter’s presidency in two-tournament deals that included the Russia and Qatar tournaments. They included deals with Fox in the United States and Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports that were sealed in 2011.
FIFA’s reserves will rise to about $2.5 billion despite the COVID-19 pandemic. FIFA was prepared to use that cash to help members through uncertainty in 2020 when national team soccer and World Cup qualifying games were almost entirely shut down.
Revenues are likely to approach $10 billion for the next four years thanks to a new financial strategy for women’s soccer and the expanded 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Separate sponsor deals for women’s soccer are being signed for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The 2026 men’s tournament will have 48 teams instead of 32.
FIFA has an almost blank slate for the 2026 edition with top-tier sponsors Coca-Cola, Adidas and Wanda the only deals currently extended.
FIFA pledged to give more money to member federations when they gathered in Qatar in March, promising their basic grant from Zurich would rise by 33% to $8 million in total from 2023-27.
On his election day in 2016, Infantino promised voters: “It’s your money, not FIFA’s money.”
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Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press