By Jonathan Copping, Sports Lawyer, Bolt Burdon Law Firm, London, United Kingdom
The winner of the 2018 World Cup in Russia will receive £29 million in prize money, after FIFA announced that a record pool of £305 million would be split between the 32 participants. The prize money represents an increase of 12% on that paid to the participants in the 2014 World Cup.
Each participant will receive £6 million for reaching the group stage, which is the same amount as awarded at the 2014 World Cup; however, the increases in prize money come in the knockout stages: £9 million, £12 million and £16.5 million for reaching the first knockout round, quarter-final and semi-final respectively.
The prize money is paid by FIFA to the participant’s national association. Thus, if one were to draw criticism of the increase in prize money, it is the fact that the prize money is only being increased for participants that reach the latter stages of the tournament. The participants that reach the latter stages are generally the most established nations with the wealthiest national associations, so the increase in prize money is likely to create further gaps between the participants.
Separately, FIFA has announced new bidding regulations to govern the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup.
Of key relevance in the new regulations is that the FIFA Code of Ethics and Bid Rules of Conduct are binding on all officials involved in the bidding process, including all members of the FIFA Council and delegates of the FIFA Congress.
The FIFA Code of Ethics
(a) prohibits the receipt of any gifts from the association of a bidder or a consultant or nominee, unless the gift has only symbolic or trivial value;
(b) excludes any influence for the execution or omission of an act that is related to their official activities or falls within their discretion;
(c) is not contrary to their duties;
(d) does not create any undue pecuniary or other advantage; and
(e) does not create a conflict of interest.
It is, however, difficult, in practice, to establish whether a gift has symbolic or trivial value. What may be trivial to one person may not be trivial to another person.
Additionally, the FIFA Code of Ethics prohibits the acceptance of support or development programmes, that contain financial or commercial contributions to member associations, and the organising, staging or agreeing of commercial terms in relation to friendly matches involving teams from the bidding association.
The announcement of new regulations governing the bidding process for future FIFA World Cups has been long overdue, followin the widely-reported scandals regarding the bidding processes for the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups, culminating in arrests in May 2015 of a number of senior individuals at FIFA on corruption charges.
Jonathan Copping can be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@boltburdon.co.uk’