Commercial fallout of FIFA scandal threatens to haunt Russian World Cup

Global Business

The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow is the centerpiece for next year’s Russia World Cup. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent readying it and other stadia for next summer’s tournament.

But before a ball has even been kicked, the competition has been tainted by allegations that multi-million dollar bribes were paid for the rights to host the comopetition, as well as other World Cups.

CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports.

The scandal forced Sepp Blatter to quit as the head of governing body FIFA. He was subsequently banned from football for six years for a separate ethics violations case – but maintains his innocence, telling reporters earlier this year: “I am sorry that I am still somewhere, a punching ball.”

The bribery allegations hit FIFA hard financially – it suffered a $369 million loss the year after the scandal erupted in 2015.

And ticket sales for next year’s World Cup so far haven’t been encouraging.

At this stage before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, fans had requested 6 million tickets. Compare that to just 2 million tickets requested for Russia, according to FIFA’s latest figures last month.

Of course, there’s still plenty of time for the prospect of seeing superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in action for Portgual and Argentina, respectively, to change that.

But ticket revenues are dwarfed by those from sponsorship deals. And key partners including Sony and Emirates airlines have dumped FIFA, though Adidas and Coca Cola have remained loyal.

Even so, FIFA’s finances are healthy enough to raise the tournament prize money to 400 million dollars, a nice incentive for the players if not the fans who, at the top end, will be buying the most expensive World Cup tickets ever sold.