FIFA will raid its well-stocked reserves to finance a COVID-19 relief plan that will make up to $1.5 billion (£1.2 billion/€1.3 billion) available to the wider “football community.”
A 12-page document circulated in the wake of today’s Council meeting includes projections showing a drawdown of well over $1 billion (£805 million/€891 million) from reserves over the present cycle, sending them plunging from $2.745 billion (£2.2 billion/€2.44 billion) at end-December 2018 to approximately $1.6 billion (£1.3 billion/€1.4 billion) four years later.
A revised budget for 2019-22, by contrast, shows relatively little change from the original budget for the cycle, which was published in the governing body’s 2017 financial report.
The revenue forecast has been revised down from $6.56 billion (£5.3 billion/€5.8 billion) to $6.44 billion (£5.2 billion/€5.7 billion), with FIFA making the point that a large proportion of rights have already been contracted.
For example, looking at its biggest revenue stream, TV broadcasting rights, 94 per cent of the budgeted $3.3 billion (£2.66 billion/€2.9 billion) of receipts are said to have been contracted.
Assuming that Qatar 2022 can actually take place, therefore, FIFA, as one might expect, looks reasonably placed to weather the coronavirus storm with something to spare, notwithstanding the high cost attached to its relief plan.
Even so, the cycle now looks very different from the expansionist vision mapped out by President Gianni Infantino before the pandemic hit, with the expanded Club World Cup, originally set for China next year, still not rescheduled.
FIFA said that as soon as a new date for the competition had been set, it would “revise its revenue budget upwards accordingly.”
The body still seems to be taking a conservative view about hospitality rights and ticket sales in the present cycle, which would come overwhelmingly from the 2022 World Cup.
These are put at $508 million (£409 million/€452 million) in the revised budget, compared with a combined $689 million (£555 million/€613 million) in 2015-18 and $711 million (£572 million/€633 million) in 2011-14.
The new figures indicate that FIFA made a loss before taxes and financial result of $280 million (£225 million/€249 million) in 2019, with further losses of $794 million (£639 million/€707 million) and $518 million (£417million/€461 million) anticipated in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
These are projected to be balanced out by a bumper $1.69 billion (£1.36 billion/€1.5 billion) profit in 2022, when the bulk of the body’s quadrennial revenues would be recognised.
This would leave a small surplus for the cycle as a whole, just as with the original budget.
FIFA said its planned investment in football would “continue unchanged” for the revised full 2019-2022 cycle.
The modest decline, from $6.46 billion (£5.2 billion/€5.75 billion) to $6.34 billion (£5.1 billion/€5.65 billion) in projected investment/expenses would come from a reduction in the expense budget, explained partly by a “reduction in costs relating to the legal investigations due to the release of provisions that had been created for them.”