FIFA Spends $1 Billion on Members as Blatter Seeks Re-Election

Soccer’s governing body is funding more than $1 billion in global development projects as President Sepp Blatter disburses profits from the 2014 World Cup to hundreds of member nations during his re-election campaign.

FIFA said spending on local coaching, practice fields and other development efforts rose 32 percent to $1.05 billion during the four-year World Cup cycle through the 2014 event in Brazil. The Zurich-based organization had the funds because its event-related revenue climbed to $5.14 billion for 2011-2014, surpassing the $3.89 billion it pulled in for the four years culminating with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“We had very high revenue, but we were also able to spend a lot more for development,” Markus Kattner, FIFA’s head of finance and administration, said. “Surplus is redistributed to the 209 member nations.”

The payouts came as Blatter faces a re-election challenge in which each national soccer body gets a vote. All three of Blatter’s opponents for the May 29 contest, including Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan and Dutch soccer head Michael van Praag, have promised more cash to national associations from FIFA’s funds.

Retired Portuguese player Luis Figo, who played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, wants to dole out the most cash, saying he’ll give $1 billion from FIFA’s reserves to members. Figo also said half the $5 billion generated through the World Cup would go to national associations if he’s elected.

Extraordinary Payments

Under Blatter, FIFA itself has ramped up local funding in the past year. The success of the Brazil World Cup led it to announce “extraordinary” financial assistance payments to member associations and regional governing bodies that totaled $261.5 million, a jump of 81 percent over the previous World Cup cycle. The payments, which were part of the $1.05 billion total, included an extra $1.05 million for each national association.

FIFA is calling the re-routing of World Cup money to the member nations its “Solidarity Model.” Solidarity money for the past four years totals $1.56 billion, including the development funds and about $505 million in “other FIFA events,” Kattner said.

For 2014 itself, FIFA had net income of $140.7 million, almost double 2013. All the profit went toward FIFA’s reserves, which were $1.52 billion at the end of 2014, according to the financial report released today.

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