U.S.-led World Cup bid denies $10bn revenue projections optimistic - report
The North American bid for the 2026 World Cup is standing by its record-breaking profit projections among suggestions the figures do not stack up, sources close to the bid told Press Association, and believe its estimates are, if anything, on the conservative side.
Canada, Mexico and the United States have teamed up to form the front-running United 2026 bid and, while the contest has narrowed in recent weeks, it remains the marginal favourite over Morocco's bid for the 48-team tournament.
With the U.S. set to stage 60 of the 80 games, most of the tournament would be played in the world's richest market, in existing high-quality venues, in front of fans used to paying premium prices for premium events.
These factors have emboldened United 2026 to claim its revenues will be £10.5 billion and FIFA's profit would be £8.25bn -- both of which would smash all previous numbers for World Cups, even allowing for the 16 extra games the expanded tournament would involve.
The projections, however, have raised eyebrows, with several sources close to the vote telling Press Association Sport they are a significant increase on those listed in March's bid book and only make sense if ticket prices are also hiked to record levels.
At a presentation in Brussels earlier this month, the United bid said its $14bn turnover estimate is based $5bn in TV rights, $3.6bn in sponsorship, $2.5bn from ticket sales and $1.5bn in hospitality.
The ticketing figure was an increase of $400 million on the bid book number and would equate to an average ticket price of $431, £324. That compares to the inflation-adjusted average in Brazil four years ago of £160 and Morocco's projected average of £170.
The Brussels estimate also included a unnamed fifth revenue stream of $1.4bn.
United 2026 has declined requests from PA Sport to comment on how this sum would be raised but sources close to the bid have said America's combination of corporate wealth, existing venues and marketing know-how would enable it to make money in ways previous World Cup hosts have never even imagined.
Some of the examples that have been suggested include music concerts in the build-up and during the tournament and tours, although it is unclear when these tours would take place or who they would involve.
The bid is also understood to be adamant its hospitality and sponsorship figures are easily achievable. The former is said to be based on the fact the Super Bowl makes $150m in hospitality whereas a World Cup would have at least six games that big -- the three opening-day games, one in each country, the two semifinals and the final.
They are equally bullish on corporate America's enthusiasm for World Cup-related deals, although some observers have noted that a North American World Cup would be chasing the same sponsors as the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics in Los Angeles.
Overall, the US-led bid seems determined to take Morocco's projected profit and at least double it, hoping any wavering voters at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on June 13 will ignore the geopolitics, forget more subjective arguments about passion and focus on the bottom line.