Scandal-tainted FIFA is heading for a $100 million-plus deficit for 2015 and rival candidates for the leadership of football’s world body have warned of catastrophe if some campaign promises are carried out.
FIFA has $1.5 billion in cash in the bank and its riches are a key battle for the five rivals who will take part in Friday’s vote for a replacement for Sepp Blatter.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, the Asian football boss and a frontrunner, has warned that some of his rivals’ promises to give more money to member nations could “bankrupt” the governing body by 2018.
Another contender, Jerome Champagne, said that “very dangerous” financial promises are being made.
The Frenchman, a former FIFA deputy secretary general, confirmed in a letter to national associations that the world body suffered a deficit of about $100 million in 2015 - much attributed to the corruption scandals engulfing football.
He said two “top sponsors” are holding out on deals ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and 20 out of 27 backers for other competitions.
According to Champagne, who is seen as an outsider in the FIFA race, this could lead to a “worst case” cut of $600 million in income up to 2018. But this could increase if a major fine is inflicted on FIFA by Swiss or US authorities investigating soccer scandals.
Champagne singled out a promise by Gianni Infantino, another FIFA frontrunner, to give $5 million dollars every four years to each national association for soccer development, plus $40 million to each of the six continental bodies.
He said the UEFA general secretary’s proposals would cost $900 million over four years.
“It seems therefore ludicrous to promise nearly a billion dollars with political and electoral objectives, after having criticized FIFA and President Blatter for years on the alleged grounds that he received votes in exchange for development programes,” Champagne said.
Infantino’s campaign maintained that the money could be found through savings at the world body and increased revenues. Infantino says in his manifesto there is “significant growth potential” for new sponsors.