We all know that football (soccer for some) is the most followed sport in the world. Estimates put the number of fans at about 3.5 billion - according to them, almost half of the world's population is fascinated by this sport. This massive fan base makes football a big business - the Premier League, for example, is one of the most valuable sports leagues in the world. second only to the Americas' holy trinity - NFL, NBA, MLB. But every four years, football stops being "business as usual" thanks to the FIFA World Cup. Today, let us take a look at just how big a business a World Cup can be - for FIFA, that is.
The rights to broadcast and stream the matches of the World Cup is FIFA's most sought-after product. In 2014, more than half of the organization's revenues were made up of granting TV and radio channels the right to broadcast matches, along with the opening ceremony and the final. Here are the numbers: out of the event's total revenues for the 2011-2014 time period, of $4.826 billion, $2.428 billion was the broadcast rights alone.
The massive media exposure of the FIFA World Cup attracts many sponsors with some big budgets to spend. While there is no way to know exactly how much individual sponsors pay for part of this exposure, we know that between 2011 and 2014, FIFA made almost $1.6 billion from them.
Tickets and other revenues
Football fans spent $527 million on tickets for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This year, the interest for tickets is equally big: by mid-January 2018, over 3.1 million requests for tickets have been registered - and the prices of the tickets range from around $100 for the "average" fan to around $1,000 for a full-access VIP pass. Other revenues include hospitality rights, whatever they mean (over $180 million) and licensing rights, or the right to use the FIFA logo and the mascot on pretty much any product imaginable from free slots to kitchen towels ($107 million).
How about the costs?
Aside from the money they give the local organizing committee ($453 million in 2014), the prizes ($358 million in 2014), club benefits ($70 MLN), and the lodging and travel expenses of the teams ($42 MLN), the organization spends the most on TV production ($358 million), various ticketing and IT solutions ($157 million) and others. Between 2011 and 2014, the total expenses of the organization reached around $2.2 billion, leaving it with profits of more than $2.6 billion, out of which the World Cup itself accounted for $338 million.
Football was always a big business - if you didn't think of it like this by now, perhaps the numbers above will finally convince you.