FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks to the media during the FIFA Council press conference at the Park Hyatt on October 22, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. | Image Credit: Getty Images
FIFA will earn $700 million more from the Qatar World Cup than four years ago despite relentless criticism of the tournament’s structure, president Gianni Infantino said on Saturday.
Mr. Infantino said media rights are up about $200 million compared to the 2018 tournament in Russia, sponsorship is $200 million more and tickets and hospitality will bring in another $200 to $300 million.
“In total, this World Cup will generate for FIFA about $600-$700 million more than the last World Cup,” he said ahead of Sunday’s opening match between Qatar and Ecuador.
Mr. Infantino said he would reveal FIFA’s global revenues for the past four years to the national associations on Sunday.
But he insisted the Qatar tournament – which has faced criticism over its rights and climate issues – had defied the doubters.
“I was told that the sponsors will jump from FIFA, people will turn off their TV, they will not watch the World Cup because of the scandal, nobody will go to Qatar because it is winter.”
Celebrating the “commercial success”, Infantino said, “If so many people around the world have invested so much money in the World Cup in Qatar, they are investing because they believe in FIFA” and “trust” in Qatar.
“Either those people are stupid, or somebody, those who say nobody would watch it, that nobody cares about this World Cup, might be a little bit wrong as some of the polls in some countries were wrong as well.”
Mr Infantino attributed a decision announced on Friday to ban the sale of beer around eight stadiums to the “flow” of fans into the city.
He said the move was understood by its beer sponsor Budweiser and its parent company AB InBev.
Just a few weeks ago Budweiser agreed to a new sponsorship deal through 2026.
“Partners are partners in good times and bad, in hard times and easy times,” he said.
Mr. Infantino also dismissed the significance of the late U-turn.
“If this is the biggest issue we have for the World Cup then I will sign (off) immediately and go to the beach and relax until December 18,” he said.
The FIFA chief said there were still enough places in Muslim Qatar – which strictly restricts the sale of alcohol – for up to 100,000 people at any one time to buy beer in fan zones and hotels.
“For me personally, if you can’t drink beer for three hours a day you can live.”
He said rules banning beer in stadiums have been applied in European countries such as France, Spain, Portugal and Scotland.
“Here it seems to be a big deal because it is a Muslim country,” he said, returning to his theme that Qatar is facing “racism” and “hypocrisy”.