FIFA returns $100M to Brazil; World Cup cost $15 billion
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Football’s world governing body FIFA said Tuesday it had set up a $100 million World Cup Legacy Fund for Brazil, aimed at sports facilities, youth and women’s football, and medical and health projects.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter pledged two years ago to give back some of the 2014 World Cup income to grassroots programs in the South American country, which spent about $15 billion organizing last year’s World Cup.
Spending on the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics is expected to top $15 billion.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, speaking in Sao Paulo, said the World Cup “inevitably has an impact on society and the environment in the host country.” He said organizers had a “responsibility to limit the associated negative effects, while at the same time maximizing the huge positive impact it can have.”
It will take years to assess the impact of the World Cup in Brazil.
It is clear that Brazilian politicians underestimated the costs, stadiums were late getting ready, and many related infrastructure project were cancelled, or have yet to be completed. On the field, matches were high-scoring and jam-packed, and a heavy police and military presence helped discourage the kind of protests that overshadowed the 2013 Confederations Cup.
Brazil was eliminated in a stunning 7-1 lost to Germany in the semifinals.
FIFA, a not-for-profit organization based in Switzerland, generated more than $4 billion in sales from the 2014 World Cup. The figure could reach $5 billion for Russia’s 2018 World Cup.
An analysis earlier this month said Brazil spent about $3 billion on new and refurbished stadiums, 90 percent of it being public money. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had promised all stadiums would be privately financed.
Government officials acknowledged that public holidays associated with the World Cup were partly to blame for the country falling into a technical recession late last year.
Four of the 12 stadiums used for the World Cup are almost certain to become white elephants. Some are faced with hosting weddings and children’s events to generate income. Several are expected to host a few games for the Rio Olympics.
Valcke acknowledged that “some of the stadiums are not used permanently.” He said it would “take time to use all the stadiums at their maximum.”
He also responded to criticism of FIFA in the Brazilian media.
“Our commitment (is) to be in Brazil after the World Cup, not to leave, as some media said — I mean (comments like) ‘FIFA is coming to Brazil taking the money out of Brazil and run away from Brazil right after the final’. It is not true.
“FIFA is committed to develop and support football wherever we organize our events.”
Despite Brazil’s prestige in the game, Jose Maria Marin, president of the Brazilian Football Federation, said some of the legacy money was targeted for the 15 states where the game is not as well funded.
“We took on a commitment with the states that did not host the event to make sure the benefits of the World Cup will reach places where, although the love of football is huge, the structure offered to the community still cannot be compared to that which we see in the bigger cities.”
FIFA said the Brazilian federation was responsible for the projects — subject to FIFA approval. FIFA said the spending would be audited by accounting firm KPMG.
Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP