European soccer federations stand to earn up to US$75-million every two years if plans for a new global league are approved as part of FIFA’s US$25-billion overhaul of competitions.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino outlines the extent of the windfall to members of his ruling council in a letter that has been seen by The Associated Press ahead of crucial meetings that could reshape the world’s biggest sport.
Infantino said an international consortium would underwrite guaranteed revenue of at least US$25-billion over 12 years to create the Nations League on a two-year cycle for more than 200 national teams and expand the Club World Cup from an annual seven-team competition into a quadrennial event for 24 participants.
The global league plan was developed by UEFA, where Infantino was general secretary until 2016, to replace international friendlies. A European version is already due to start in September.
The complex global format would start with regional qualifying groups with promotion and relegation, leading to intercontinental finals brackets in seven divisions. The pinnacle is an eight-team mini-tournament of teams from five continents, including three top European countries and two South American. It would likely be hosted in one country in as few as eight days in October or November of odd-numbered years.
The consortium is guaranteeing US$13-billion in revenue over 12 years from the Nations League, allowing FIFA to compensate countries that would lose match dates currently reserved for friendlies they organize.
The new formats do not threaten the future of the World Cup, which is being expanded from 32 to 48 teams from 2026, but allow FIFA to deepen the “relationship between fans and the game,” according to Infantino.
In a proposal from Infantino configured for Europe, FIFA forecasts that the five top countries could each be guaranteed to receive US$37.5-million to US$50-million to play six games in the initial phase of the Nations League. Each team qualifying for the Final 8 competition in the following year would bank US$15-million and another US$5-million for being runner-up or US$10-million for winning the title.
The US$75-million bonanza for a European winner of the NL would eclipse the US$35-million collected by Germany for winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil or the US$38-million on offer for the team that wins the 2018 edition in Russia in July.
The overhaul of international soccer would herald the end of the mostly unloved Confederations Cup that functions as a warm-up event for World Cup host countries. Germany collected only US$4.1-million for winning the event last year.
FIFA envisages replacing that competition in the international calendar with the expanded Club World Cup, which would see US$3-billion in revenue guaranteed for each edition by investors.
FIFA would have a 51-per-cent stake in a joint venture with the consortium of investors from Asia, Europe and North America who have signed non-disclosure agreements after pledging to deliver US$25-billion in revenue from 2021 to 2033.
“They are not only among the world’s most solid investors,” Infantino wrote to council members, “but also very motivated to work with FIFA and the world football community.”
FIFA would run the new competitions and an agency would be used to commercialize the competitions, including selling television rights.
FIFA’s 37-member ruling council still needs to approve the two competitions. Gaining the consent of UEFA could be testing given how a 24-team Club World Cup, featuring 12 European teams, could devalue the status of the Champions League and create challenges over the release of players by leading clubs.
“Obviously, should you feel that more time is needed for the Nations League as it does not only concern FIFA, the project could also be split and the two competitions could be discussed separately,” Infantino wrote in the letter seen by the AP. “This would probably entail a change in the financial terms related to the Nations League, but it could certainly be explored further.
“Should the confederations show their willingness to move forward, an extraordinary FIFA Council meeting would be called around mid-May to finalize FIFA’s position on the strategic matters impacting this project.”
Infantino, who hosted talks on the new competitions with officials from soccer’s six continental governing bodies on Monday, said the Nations League will “strengthen and enhance” international soccer with more competitive matches.
“Matches would be ensured for all national teams and this format would offer a concrete, guaranteed, long-term financial security for all of FIFA’s member associations and substantially increase their current revenues. This would significantly support the member associations’ efforts in football development on their territories.”
FIFA’s share of the profit for any revenue from the new competitions over the projected US$25-billion would be redistributed throughout the 211-member federation and the six confederations, Infantino said.
The consortium is also committing up to US$1-billion to develop FIFA’s digital platform “to distribute and commercialize digital content and merchandising,” Infantino wrote.