The world’s biggest sporting event is underway, with 32 teams having already qualified for the main competition. The news as we write this is that the host country, Russia, just thrashed Saudi Arabia in the first game of the competition. Brazil is the favorite on most betting websites, with Germany, Spain and France not far behind. Portugal and Argentina are also said to have a chance, while England, and the country’s perpetually let-down fans dreaming of a repeat of 1966, could also do well.
Unfortunately, for what you might call smaller teams, the World Cup hasn’t ever been won by a big underdog. But you never know, maybe it will be a Senegal vs Iran final this year. However, today we are going to talk money, not form, in this episode of the Infographics Show, The cost of the World Cup.
First a little bit of information, just in case you don’t know how the World Cup works. In the beginning, 209 teams of the world are split into six regions. Only 207 teams took part, as Zimbabwe and Indonesia were disqualified before playing any games. Those regions’ teams play each other over a period of about three years. Only 32 teams qualify after that period. The host of the tournament always gets an automatic spot. The main competition starts with a group stage, with eight groups of four. The teams in these groups will play each other, and the two teams at the end of that, that are top, qualify for the knockout stage. We might not need to tell you that you get three points for a win and one point for a draw.
If two teams have equal points, you have something called goal difference, meaning the team that scored more goals and conceded fewer will be above the other team on the same points. If goal difference is the same, it’s who scored the most goals, and if that is the same, it’s how those two teams did against each other. During the knock-out stage, if a game is tied at the end of 90 minutes, they play extra time of two 15-minute periods. This year will see something new, in that teams are granted a fourth substitution during extra time. If the game is still a draw after that, they have a penalty shootout.
These are the groups and teams:
GROUP A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
GROUP B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
GROUP C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
GROUP D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
GROUP E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
GROUP F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
GROUP G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
GROUP H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
You usually have something called a Group of Death, meaning the hardest group. This year it isn’t really obvious which group that is, as all the top teams are separated. However, you could say that group D is a hard one, as Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria are all solid teams. You might also argue that every team in Group F plays to a high standard. With all the other groups, it’s easy to see two qualifiers.
Who’s gonna watch this? Well, in 2014, it’s said 3.2 billion people tuned in for the competition. That’s not far off half the world’s population. It’s said 1.013 billion people watched the final. Compare that to the 112 million viewers that watched Super Bowl 50. Those viewers were just TV, too. It’s said that another 280 million people on the planet watched the games online.
This competition makes billions of dollars for anyone involved in broadcasting, actual ticket sales, tourism, and sponsorships. FIFA, or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, stands to make about $6 billion. This non-profit organization makes this staggering amount from tax exemptions FIFA offers its corporate partners, licensing rights, hospitality and accommodation rights, marketing rights, and ticket sales. FIFA says all that money goes back into developing the ‘beautiful game’ around the world. We might add that FIFA has been involved in bribery scandals. Everyone wants a piece of the World Cup, and FIFA has been accused of selling those pieces off.
Just to give you an idea of how much money is made and spent, we have some more facts. Forbes reports that before any games started, Russians bought 871,797 tickets. Tickets sold in the U.S. numbered 88,825, and in Brazil 72,512. That’s a lot of people travelling East. It’s said just for the opening games, tickets cost somewhere between $50 to $550, but for the final, the cheapest ticket is $1,100. We looked online to buy a ticket and the highest-ranking website had final tickets for sale at around $5,000. Those were apparently VIP tickets, though. If you are a company and you want to show an advertisement during that final, it won’t be cheap, either. An unnamed company in the U.S. spent $1.18 million on an ad to be shown during the 2014 final.
The hosts, Russia, reportedly spent a whopping $11.8 billion on the competition. Yes, you heard that right. We might add that Brazil spent $15 billion for the 2014 World Cup. 70 percent of that Russian cash came from the country’s federal budget, meaning the people of Russia paid for it. What is all the money spent on?
Well, holding such a massive competition means you have to develop infrastructure for all those teams and travelling fans. Yes, it’s costly, but there is a good reason why countries are lining up to hold it. Russia estimates that the revenue from the competition will be somewhere between $26 billion and $30 billion, most of which will be made via tourism and investment benefits. Qatar will reportedly outspend everyone by a long shot for the 2022 World Cup, while it remains to be seen how much the United States, Canada, and Mexico will spend when those countries host the 2026 World Cup.
But where did all the $11.8 billion go? Well, Bloomberg writes that $4.8 billion went on building new stadiums and restoring old ones. 12 stadiums over 11 cities covering 1,800 miles (2,896km) will hold the games. The most expensive of which is the Saint-Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, which cost $1.1 billion (built in 2017). The Rostov Arena opened in 2018 and cost $312 million. Also, newly opened is the Kaliningrad Stadium ($299 million), the Mordovia Arena in Saransk ($300 million), the Volgograd Arena ($273 million), the Samara Arena ($320 million) and the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium ($287 million). The final will be held in Russia’s biggest stadium, the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, but that’s been around for decades.
What about the rest of the cash Russia will spend? Well, Russia says it’s going or went on infrastructure. This means roads, new buildings, transport, and tourism infrastructure.
As the title of this episode is vague, i.e. the cost for who exactly, we can expand this and ask how much would it cost you? Like, let’s say you are American, and going to the World Cup is on your bucket list. Thankfully, someone added up the costs of staying in Russia during the competition and watching four games, not including the final. This person would be staying in four-star accommodations and getting the cheapest tickets possible. All the following costs were added up:
Chartered Air between Host Cities
Ground Match Transfers
and Pre-Game Parties”
The total cost was $10,500. That would mean getting good prices on tickets and being pretty frugal. It could easily be double that amount!
So, whataya say?! Worth the cost? Or no way in hell would you spend over 10 grand to attend the world cup? Let us know in your thoughts in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called The Milwaukee Monster: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!