Fifa finances are extremely solid, says Infantino

Fifa president Gianni Infantino posing with Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah in February last year. The Kuwaiti power broker stood down from the Fifa council after he was faced with corruption allegations.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino posing with Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah in February last year. The Kuwaiti power broker stood down from the Fifa council after he was faced with corruption allegations.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MANAMA • Fifa president Gianni Infantino claimed yesterday that the finances of football's governing body were "extremely solid", despite it posting a US$369 million (S$518.5 million) loss earlier this year.

Speaking at the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) congress in Bahrain, Infantino said the losses were in line with Fifa's "business model" and there was no need for it to give "artificial" figures.

"In spite of what some have been trying to write or to say, Fifa's finances are extremely solid," he told delegates in a short address.

He added that it was normal for Fifa to make losses for three years and then "make revenue" during the fourth financial year, when a World Cup takes place.

"That's how the business model is conducted," he said. "We don't need to tell you other stories, we don't need to make our figures artificial (or) look better by some accounting measures."

Fifa has said previously that its losses could increase throughout this year, but rebound next year to a profit of US$1 billion, largely due to TV deals from the Russian World Cup.

Infantino was speaking a day after Fifa formally announced a partnership deal with Qatar Airways for the Gulf carrier to be its "official airline" for a host of major tournaments, including the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

According to the prevailing terms of the contract, the airline will also sponsor this year's Confederations Cup, the Club World Cup and the women's World Cup.

It comes as Fifa struggles to find new sponsors since corruption scandals engulfed the organisation in 2015.

Yesterday's congress also saw the AFC finally elect members to the all-powerful Fifa Council.

China's Zhang Jian, South Korea's Chung Mong Gyu and the Philippines' Mariano Araneta were all elected unopposed.

The third seat was made available after Kuwaiti power broker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, who is facing corruption allegations in the United States, stood down.

The council seat reserved for a woman delegate was won by Bangladesh's Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, who beat Australia's high-profile candidate Moya Dodd 27 votes to 17.

The original vote had been delayed since last September when the AFC abandoned its extraordinary congress in Goa, India, after just 27 minutes, when Saoud al-Mohannadi, the Qatar Football Association vice-president, was stopped from standing.

He was then banned from football for a year after being accused of not cooperating with a Fifa corruption enquiry. However, last month, Mohannadi won his appeal against the ban handed down by a Fifa ethics committee.

This exoneration came too late for him to apply to stand for the council again. He was present for the vote yesterday, but made no comment afterwards.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'Fifa finances are extremely solid, says Infantino'. Print Edition | Subscribe