FIFA president Gianni Infantino has revealed a $25 billion investment proposal by a consortium of “secret” investors.
A group of investors from the Middle East and Asia is willing to pay a whopping $25 billion to buy an expanded version of FIFA’s Club World Cup as well as the rights to a proposed global league for national teams.
Infantino, according to a New York Times report, has told his top board about the deal offer from a fund of “secret” investors, during a Council meeting held in Bogotá, Colombia, last month. He did not reveal the investors’ identity.
Infantino’s proposal was rejected by the council for the want of more details of the deal and the investors. FIFA has never sold control of its events to the commercial parties before and such a deal would have been unprecedented.
According to the people with knowledge of the meeting, Infantino received a proposal earlier this year to bring the club tournament to China and Saudi Arabia. The two nations are committed to expanding their leisure and entertainment sectors, the New York daily has reported.
Under the deal proposal brought to Infantino, the consortium of investors would control the media rights and other commercial interest related to the competition for as many as three editions. It would even decide the venues of the new format. This could bring a major shift in FIFA’s business model, which relies on the sales of tickets, sponsorships and media rights for revenue.
The “secret” investors have sorted a quick response on the offer made to Infantino. According to the people, present in the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the council had rejected the request because they were frustrated by Infantino’s bluntness and lack of transparency into the deal.
The president of the football’s governing body said that he had committed to a nondisclosure agreement and wanted the council’s permission to push ahead to complete an agreement with the mystery group.
The move, according to various sceptics, is aimed at strengthening Infantino’s presidential candidature for a second term ahead of the elections next year. He has also mooted the idea of women’s global league which he believes will raise the standard, visibility and appeal of women’s football globally.
However, the deal may also help Infantino, who was elected as president in 2016, to increase the revenues and restore profits lost during a major corruption scandal in 2015. Infantino has also committed a hike in the development funds disbursed to FIFA’s 211 member nations.