World Cup prize money: The cash behind Russia 2018

By Luke Christou

A total of $103m was up for grabs at the 1998 France World Cup. Two decades on, the World Cup prize money now stands at almost eight times that amount.

World Cup prize money has been increasing by approximately 52% from tournament to tournament.

The biggest increase (107.7%) came between 1986 and 1990. However, the pool only actually went up by $28m. When teams take to Russia later this month, there will be an additional $215m in the prize pot compared to the Brazil World Cup in 2014.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will kick-off next week in Moscow, Russia. Some 32 teams will be fighting for the prestigious trophy across Russia over the next month, in the hope of being crowned football’s world champions.

The competition offers the chance for players to stake their claim as part of the sport’s elite, and gives fans the chance to secure the bragging rights for the next four years.

Aside from the opportunity to put their name in the history books, the 32 competing nations will be fighting for the largest stake of the $791m prize pot, but just how much is a run to the World Cup final worth?

How much is winning the World Cup worth to teams?

Of the $791m that FIFA will give away as part of the 2018 World Cup, $400m will be allocated based on how teams perform in Russia.

Unlike some other tournaments, the Champions League for example, prize money isn’t distributed based on the number of wins, draws and losses recorded in the group stage. Instead, each of the 16 teams eliminated from the tournament’s group stage will receive $8m. The 16 teams that progress will be guaranteed at least $12m for competing in the next round.

Those that reach the quarter-finals will earn $16m, while losing semi-finalists will receive either $22m or $24m based on which team emerges victorious from the third-place playoff.

Both finalists will receive $28m, with the winner receiving an extra $10m.

Where does the other $391m go?

The remainder of the World Cup prize money is distributed between the organisations and clubs that players participating belong to.

Competing nations receive $1.5m ahead of the tournament just for taking part, at a cost of $48m to FIFA.

The vast majority of what remains is distributed between clubs that agree to release players for the tournament. FIFA distributes $209m to players’ clubs. However, with a total of 578 clubs represented in Russia, they will receive approximately $362,000 each, assuming an individual fee hasn’t been agreed with certain clubs.

For some clubs from smaller nations, this amount of money will be a huge bonus. However, for the majority, it will barely cover their players’ salaries for a week.

The remaining $134m is put aside to fund FIFA’s “Club Protection Programme”, which compensates clubs should their players suffer any injuries while playing in the World Cup. Since 2012, FIFA has been paying the salaries of players that suffer injuries on international duty for the duration of their recovery period.

How does the World Cup prize money compare to other tournaments?

While by far the most prestigious, the World Cup isn’t the most lucrative competition in professional football. That title goes to the English Premier League, which awarded more than €2.5bn ($2.9bn) in prize money last season, thanks to ever-increasing broadcasting rights payments.

The Premier League is closely followed by the Champions League. UEFA paid out €1.32bn ($1.6bn) in prize money for the 2017/18 season. FIFA will pay out around half of that amount this summer.

Read more: Champions League prize money: The cash behind football’s biggest club tournament

However, the World Cup does come out on top in international football. For example, the 2016 European Championship, eventually won by Portugal, saw €301m distributed among the 24 competing countries.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) increased the prize pool for the African Cup of Nations by 64% ahead of the 2017 competition. However, the amount distributed ($16.4m) is just a fraction of what’s up for grabs at the World Cup. Winning the African tournament is worth $4m. That is half of what Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia will earn just for competing in the World Cup group stage.

How does FIFA fund the World Cup?

The World Cup pays for itself and then some.

According to FIFA’s 2014 Financial Report, the non-profit organisation generated revenues of $5.72bn from when the qualification phase of the 2014 World Cup started in 2011, to when the tournament reached its conclusion.

Of this amount, $4.83bn, or 84%, was generated by the World Cup itself.

2014 World Cup revenue ($bn)

The World Cup is funded in much the same way as other football tournaments. FIFA sells the rights to air World Cup matches in multi-million dollar broadcasting deals. According to the report, TV rights accounted for $2.43bn of World Cup revenue leading up to the 2014 tournament.

The World Cup’s second-biggest revenue generator is the sale of marketing rights. This allows brands and businesses to use the tournament’s hype to advertise their own products and services. This generated $1.6bn for FIFA throughout the 2014 World Cup.

Match tickets generated revenues of $527m, with hospitality rights and licensing deals making up the rest.

2014 World Cup expenses ($bn)

Corruption scandals aside, FIFA is a non-profit organisation, so what’s left of any funds raised has to go somewhere.

Prize money and club fees are FIFA’s biggest World Cup expense. However, an additional $370m was spent on television production during the 2014 World Cup. Likewise, $453m was given to Brazil’s organising committee to ensure that the country was ready to host the prestigious tournament.

Read more: Where to stay, eat and drink if you’re travelling to the Russia World Cup

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