2018 WCup set to make income target
Even after taking a financial hit from Italy and the United States failing to qualify, FIFA's top salesman insists the 2018 World Cup will make its income target.
Italy's loss in the playoffs wiped tens of millions of dollars off the value of an unsold broadcasting deal. One of FIFA's most valuable markets is typically worth US$200 million per World Cup.
The surprise US elimination as Panama qualified affects finding four North American sponsors in a new, and stalled, regional sales programme. Just one of 20 slots has been sold worldwide, to an oligarch-owned bank in host nation Russia.
"Everybody is annoyed with the non-qualification of the US, which was not expected, to be honest," said FIFA commercial director Philippe Le Floc'h, who has targeted deals with American tech firms.
Still, the French-Swiss official insists FIFA will reach a $5.66 billion income target for the 2015-18 sales period even with gaps in the line-up of 34 potential sponsors.
"Obviously the more positions we fill the better. On the other hand, we are not going to go cheap," Le Floc'h told The Associated Press yesterday in his first media interview since joining FIFA 14 months ago.
Le Floc'h inherited a sales plan that was unproven even before FIFA, and its already battered image, were rocked in May 2015 when American and Swiss federal prosecutors unsealed sweeping investigations of corruption.
In the fallout, FIFA's then-heads of marketing and broadcast sales left though neither was publicly implicated.
The backdrop to 2018 World Cup sales typically in two-tournament deals with the 2022 edition has included uncertainty over FIFA's exposure to prosecution, falling oil prices, sanctions imposed on Russian businessmen, and issues with the next host in line, Qatar.
"It is complicated, especially in a market where (potential partners) see some crisis around," Le Floc'h acknowledged.
"The bad time is behind us. In the end, we bring the biggest show on earth," Le Floc'h said at FIFA's hotel base in Moscow ahead of the 2018 tournament draw today in the State Kremlin Palace.