Bankruptcy warning on Fifa rivals' hunt for votes

Fifa presidential candidate Jerome Champagne at a news conference at the EU Parliament on Jan 27, 2016.
Fifa presidential candidate Jerome Champagne at a news conference at the EU Parliament on Jan 27, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH • Scandal-tainted Fifa is heading for a 2015 deficit of about US$100 million (S$140.3 million) and rival candidates for the leadership of football's world body have warned of catastrophe if some campaign promises are carried out.

Fifa has US$1.5 billion in cash in the bank and its riches are a key battle for the five rivals who will take part in Friday's vote for a replacement for Sepp Blatter.

Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, the Asian football boss and the front runner, has warned that some of his rivals' promises to give more money to member nations could "bankrupt" the governing body by 2018.

Another contender, Jerome Champagne, said that "very dangerous" financial promises are being made.

The Frenchman, a former Fifa deputy secretary-general, confirmed in a letter to national associations that the world body suffered a deficit of about US$100 million last year - much attributed to the corruption scandals engulfing football.

He said two "top sponsors" are holding out on deals ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and 20 out of 27 backers for other competitions.

According to Champagne, who is seen as an outsider in the Fifa race, this could lead to a "worst case" cut of US$600 million in income up to 2018. But this could increase if a major fine is inflicted on Fifa by the Swiss or US authorities investigating football scandals.

He singled out a promise by Gianni Infantino, another Fifa front runner, to give US$5 million every four years to each national association for football development, plus US$40 million to each of the six continental bodies.

He said the Uefa general secretary's proposals would cost nearly US$1.3 billion over four years.

Prince Ali Al Hussein, a former Fifa vice-president from Jordan, has also called for a substantial increase in the return of football revenues to the 209 national associations.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Bankruptcy warning on Fifa rivals' hunt for votes'. Print Edition | Subscribe