Figures released this week show that Brazil made over £1.15 billion in revenue from the World Cup – that’s four times the predictions pre tournament.
The figures were boosted by fans from over 200 nations arriving in Brazil and a surge in Argentinians as their team made a push for the final. The Brazilian Association for the Hotel Industry estimate that almost 1 in 8 of all fans at the World Cup were from Argentina.
I’ve no doubt that Brazil banked a lot of cash from the World Cup, although I always worry about the accuracy of these figures. Many Argentina fans I saw in Rio were sleeping on benches and in cars, so how they are factored into the official numbers I’m not sure. In my experience these numbers are taken from an average nightly rate and multiplied up to a huge number. However they’ve done it, it still looks impressive.
What isn’t in doubt is that the World Cup is a major event that makes money for everyone involved. Flights to Brazil were packed, buses, hotels and bars were bursting at the seams… everywhere was doing a roaring trade. And that’s before we count the money FIFA charge official partners or make in TV rights and ticket revenues.
As the dust settles on Brazil and the feel good factor starts to wane, the attention will rightly return to FIFA and their murky voting process to assign the next two tournaments. It’s almost too late to take the 2018 tournament off Russia, but the vote for Qatar must be looked at again.
With the US poised to start taking the game seriously, FIFA might be on the cusp of true world domination. But they need to be accountable and transparent in their processes to keep everyone on board and head off any talk of European breakaways.
The smart money is on Qatar keeping the World Cup in 2022 but the tournament being shifted to winter where temperatures would be more bearable. That would cause a stir within Europe, but if the rest of the world votes for it, there isn’t much that can be done.
Whatever happens, FIFA is sat at the head of a huge gravy train. By some astute politicking, smoothing over bumps with cash from HQ, playing the race card (“the Brits have always hated me” says Sepp) and getting a bounce of good feeling from the World Cup, they managed to survive with hardly any changes.
I’d like to see FIFA have clear voting processes, the president not trying to change the constitution so he can stay for extra terms, clarity on where the money goes and a move to operating like a governing body instead of the Vatican.
For the good of the game, FIFA needs to change, but I’m not holding my breath for anything over the next four years.