Below, I show the cost structure for the last four tournaments. These are detailed in FIFA financial reports.
The table gives a breakdown of the costs (in millions USD) for the last four World Cups. I’ve aggregated some categories to bring some conformity but generally speaking most of the costs typically recur. The 2002 and 2006 figures are converted to dollars from Swiss francs at July exchange rates for the given year. Note – costs are not adjusted for inflation.
- Goal Line technology was very expensive, making up 16% of total costs for Brazil 2014. The system was introduced to avoid ghost goals in high-stakes matches and political pressure may have built after the infamous Frank Lampard ‘goal’ that was not given in South Africa 2010. In the France vs Honduras group match the technology was used to award a goal to France. The French went on to win 3-0. Having goal line technology definitely improves the game but it comes at a very high price when these incidents are few and far between. It will be interesting to see the total cost of VAR when the figures are released for Russia 2018. Maybe the cost of Goal Line technology has come down in the meantime but with Goal Line and VAR systems, spending on technology might be taking up a large part of the World Cup budget. Is circa 20% too much for decisions referees may get right most of the time anyway?
- It will be interesting to see the finalised figures for the Local Organising Committee. This increased significantly for Brazil 2014, doubling from the previous three World Cups. Costs really escalated for Brazil 2014 but with a new FIFA regime overseeing this tournament this cost might be curbed somewhat. One to keep an eye on when the 2018 financial report comes out.
- It's good news for the associations as prize money has increased over the years. Over the space of 12 years an extra $218m has been found to share among finalists. The biggest increase has been for the tournament winner. In Germany 2006 the Italians received $24.5m for winning the competition. The Germans received $35m for winning the tournament in Brazil four years ago. The winner of Russia 2018 will receive $38m.
- Since 2010 new categories exist for big expenditures on TV production (which I presume is worth it for FIFA given the revenues they can recoup from broadcasting) and also ‘legacy payments’. These payments seem like compensation when significant costs are imposed on poorer hosts. It will interesting to see if these legacy payments will continue. Finally, the marketing push seems to have really ramped up – much more costs are being incurred from FIFA for the organisation of preliminary tournaments, concerts and branding.