Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Tim Ream of the U.S. in action with Netherlands' Wout Weghorst on Dec. 3.JOHN SIBLEY/Reuters

FIFA expects to earn US$11-billion through 2026 with a 48-team men’s World Cup in North America set to deliver a big rise in revenue.

The four-year budget was presented Friday to the ruling FIFA council which foresees an almost 50-per-cent rise in income mainly tied to broadcasting and sponsorship deals for the men’s World Cup, plus ticketing and hospitality at a tournament which will use several NFL stadiums.

FIFA typically makes conservative budget estimates and ends up overshooting targets.

The US$7.5-billion revenue announced in Qatar last month for the 2019-22 commercial cycle was US$1-billion more than the forecasted budget.

There is also uncertainty over exactly how many games will be played – and sold to broadcasters – at the 48-team World Cup.

FIFA’s council agreed in January, 2017, to have an 80-game format with teams playing in 16 round-robin groups of three teams each ahead of a 32-team knockout bracket. The 2022 tournament, which ends when Argentina play France in the final on Sunday, has 64 matches.

The new format was agreed to help accelerate development of soccer in countries which rarely qualify for the World Cup. That was despite FIFA’s own research advising that the highest quality games would be delivered by the current 32-team format used since 1998.

However, FIFA officials have this year suggested a 104-game format with teams playing in 12 groups of four before the 32-team knockout stage. That would likely add several days to the previously expected 32-day tournament.

FIFA is weighing changes despite already signing some major broadcasting deals, including to U.S. English-language broadcaster Fox and Qatar’s beIN Sports across the Middle East and North Africa.

Argentines flock to Qatar for chance to win the World Cup

DOHA, Qatar From a soccer-crazed country known for its world-class players and its repeated economic crises, Argentine fans are making great sacrifices to be in Qatar to see their team try to win the World Cup for the first time in 36 years. Passionate and noisy, the euphoria in Doha has grown to the rhythm of Muchachos – the unofficial anthem of the fans – and with each victory of Lionel Messi and his team ahead of Sunday’s final against defending champion France. In a corner of the Souq Waqif bazaar in the capital, locals and tourists gathered around a young woman clad in the Argentine sky-blue-and-white stripped jersey juggling a ball with her feet. In a handwritten banner in English and Arabic, she asks for tickets to the World Cup final at Lusail Stadium. Passersby leave change on a hat placed on the ground. “Soccer for me is everything,” said 24-year-old Belen Godoy, who has been in Doha for a month and attended nearly every Argentina game by buying resale tickets. “I left my family. I spent all my savings,” she said. “I’ll return to Buenos Aires and I don’t know how I’m going to pay the rent ... but no one can take away what I’ve lived.” Nearby, Cristian Machinelli walked along one of the winding cobbled alleys of the labyrinthine bazaar draped in an Argentina flag decorated with images of Messi and late soccer great Diego Maradona kissing the World Cup trophy. Maradona led the team to its last World Cup title, in 1986. “I sold a Toyota truck for this,” the 34-year-old Machinelli said. “It’s what I’ve been spending here so far, and I have enough left to buy the ticket to the final. There’s no explanation, no reasoning, except that we Argentines are just crazy about soccer, and we’ll do any craziness to support [the team].” Although not always the majority in the stands, the fans’ encouragement during matches – chants accompanied by drums – seemed to help their team at crucial moments.

Varane, Konate miss World Cup training for virus-hit France

DOHA, Qatar – Raphaël Varane and Ibrahima Konaté were among five France players who missed training on Friday, two days before the World Cup final against Argentina. The two centre backs have reportedly become the latest members of the France squad to be affected by a virus, according to French media. Three other players – Dayot Upamecano, Adrien Rabiot and Kingsley Coman – were struck down by illness at the start of the week and had to isolate. Upamecano and Rabiot were back in training Friday, but Coman was still missing. Theo Hernandez and Aurélien Tchouameni were also absent, French sports daily L’Equipe reported.

Macron returns to Qatar for love of sport, despite criticism

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron is about to jet off to Qatar for the second time in a week, despite broad concerns about the emirate’s human-rights and environmental record. Why? Because France is in the World Cup final, and Macron really is a big soccer fan – as well as a prominent advocate of the long-standing partnership between the two countries. A video broadcast after France’s victory over Morocco in the semi-final showed an enthusiastic Macron mingling with French players in the dressing room on Wednesday evening at the Doha stadium, applauding to the sound of the Freed From Desire music hit that has become the team’s victory hymn. The World Cup in Qatar has sparked multiple controversies – from the living conditions of migrant workers to the effect on the environment of air-conditioned stadiums and the status of LGBTQ people, as well as women and minorities. Many activists, especially in Europe, had urged a boycott of the tournament. At a European summit in Brussels on Thursday, Macron said he fully stands by his decision. “I’m backing the France team and I think that the French are too,” he said. He referred to the more than 20 million viewers who watched the semi-final on French TF1 television, a record high for a World Cup game since 2006. “Figures are there. We love our national team, we are proud of it, we want it to win,” Macron said.

Adidas reports ‘extraordinary’ demand for Argentina jerseys

As Lionel Messi dreams of getting his hands on a maiden World Cup trophy in Qatar, his fans struggle to get theirs on Argentina jerseys as sportswear giant Adidas grapples with a global shortage of stock owing to the extraordinary demand. Ahead of Argentina’s World Cup final against France on Sunday, Adidas said the high demand for Argentine kits and knockoffs making their way into local markets has prompted them to explore plans to boost their production ahead of what could be a massive celebration. “Due to extraordinary demand for the Adidas Argentina World Cup jerseys across the globe, we have very low stock in some countries,” a spokesperson for the brand told Reuters. Argentina was the only Adidas-sponsored team to advance beyond the last 16 at the tournament in Qatar.

The Associated Press, Reuters

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe