Fifa, soccer’s governing body, expects this year’s World Cup in South Africa to generate a net gain of $1bn in income thanks to commercial deals but is eager not to call it a profit, its secretary-general has told the Financial Times.

Jerome Valcke said the 2010 tournament would generate $3.3bn (€2.5bn, £2.2bn) in income from commercial deals, and see Fifa spend $1.2bn on the tournament, including $700m spent in South Africa. About $1bn is being spent on development programmes, financial assistance to national associations and other projects.


But while predicting that income from sponsorship and media rights deals would increase for future tournaments, he said it was wrong to talk about the surplus $1bn as profit, describing it as a reserve to insulate the organisation from any unforeseen financial problems.

The build-up to the tournament, which begins on June 11, has seen Fifa and the South Africa organising committee defending themselves over security, transport and ticketing arrangements.

Asked if Fifa was rich enough to spread more money to poorer parts of the world for football’s benefits, Mr Valcke said: “We are not rich, we are making quite good money and thanks to the World Cup, because . . . that’s the only income we have.” He added: “We should not talk about profit.”

Mr Valcke said there had been good and bad times in South Africa’s preparations for the tournament. “There were difficult days and great days. There were days where you asked the question about how we will succeed, what do we need to ensure that we are moving on.”

He became truly comfortable about South Africa’s readiness for staging the event only three months ago, adding he had expected that moment to come a lot sooner. Whether South Africa could handle the logistical task of flying fans around the country during the tournament would only become apparent once the World Cup was over, Mr Valcke said.

Fifa’s $1bn reserve fund is in addition to an insurance policy worth $650m in the event of the tournament being postponed because of terrorism, war or natural disasters.

“We have enough money to face any issue at the World Cup in South Africa,” said Mr Valcke, speaking at Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

While confident of a successful 2010 World Cup, he said preparations for the 2014 tournament in Brazil were already in difficulty. Fifa, he said, had already warned organisers they were behind schedule on stadium development, and is worried about airport, accommodation and telecommunications standards.

“There are a lot of challenges in Brazil . . . It will not be easier than 2010 but definitely Brazil will be a difficult one, and for different reasons.”

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