2018 FIFA World Cup By the Numbers

It’s the moment soccer fans around the world have been gearing up for: The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The poshest among them have booked flights, hotel suites and, of course, stadium tickets.

Other fans will flock to the city and join their more humble comrades at a bar to watch the matches, proudly sporting their jersey of choice, establishing who is friend and who is foe.

It’s a fun and high-spirited occasion that’s celebrated around the world. And while it’s no secret that the UK, EU, and myriad other countries outside of North America have a deep love of football, the amount of money that love magnetizes may shock people on the other side of the pond – especially with news this week that US-Mexico-Canada have been selected to host the World Cup in 2026. There are many opportunities for a fan to spend a fair sum. Here’s where the money is made.


(Source: Nike.com)

Unsurprisingly, it’s possible to purchase just about anything imaginable with your favorite team’s logo on it during this year’s world cup. Jerseys and match balls are among the more predictable paraphernalia on offer, and for those in search of something truly unique, perhaps an $89.00 FIFA World Cup Russian Nesting Doll is just the thing for you.

The Nike Brazil Authentic Home Jersey in a sunny summer yellow, and the away jersey in a deep sea blue, are two of the most expensive of the official jerseys on the FIFA site at $164. Jerseys from England, France or Portugal cost the same. However, the most expensive piece of merch in the official FIFA shop is a framed retro Brazil jersey signed by Pelé. It will cost some diehard fan $1,999.99.

Behind the scenes, Nike and Adidas have been going head to head for years in competition over merchandise sales, individual player sponsorships, and ultimately, the attention of the soccer World Cup’s billions of viewers. This year’s trophy goes to Adidas, who has the home turf advantage of being a European company. Adidas landed the contract to design the jersey for 12 teams this year, with Nike coming in a close second with 10 teams on its roster. We have a sense of what this year’s sales will be based on looking at the 2014 Brazil soccer World Cup, where Adidas banked $2.4 billion in tournament-related revenue by selling 14 million official match balls and 8 million jerseys, according to Reuters. Two factors that may hurt sales slightly this year: Russia is not among Adidas’ top markets, and Fifa is still recovering from leadership scandals that may hurt sales.

Going to the Match

(Source: The Sun)

Jim Rome, host of CBS Sports Radio, once said, “Message to all rioters: put down your brick, put away the spray paint, and leave the cop cars alone; you’re acting like soccer fans! It’s embarrassing.”

Even the most novice of sports fans knows exactly what Rome is referring to. In an attempt to mitigate any vodka-fuelled brawls, Russian officials toyed with the idea of banning alcohol at the games altogether. Lucky for attendees this was only a passing thought. Equally lucky is Budweiser’s parent company Anheuser Busch InBev, who signed on as a sponsor for this year’s games and for Qatar 2020, making themselves one of only two beers being poured exclusively at each of Russia’s stadiums during the tournament. Anheuser Busch InBev is a beverage giant, (they own Corona, Stella Artois, and Leffe to name a few) and is promoting ties with the World Cup in over 50 countries that serve brews from its stable, pouring $2 billion into a global advertising boost that is already seeing success in soccer-loving countries like Colombia.

It may have been presumptuous to begin this section with talk of the beverages inside the stadium since the cost of entry could be a hurdle for some. Suppose you wanted to be in the stands to take in the first match of the games, Russia vs. Saudi Arabia? A good seat would have cost you $529.00. If you’d rather join the festivities when the top teams are neck and neck, buy a semi-final ticket for $721.37. And if you’ll settle for nothing but the best, arrive stylishly late and pay $1058.01 for a seat at the championship match. Too rich for your blood? Read on.

Watching at Home

(Source: VideoBlocks)

Four years ago, during the World Cup in Brazil, 3.2 billion people watched at least 30 seconds of a game. That means just shy of half the people on earth have at least a fleeting interest in the sport. 1.9 billion people could be considered fans since that’s the number of people who watched at least 30 consecutive minutes in 2014.

Naturally, that attention has cash value. FIFA has invested $241 million into making sure that soccer fans around the world can tune in. Then broadcasters around the world bid on the rights to bring the show to you at home. The reach is such an allure for companies that even countries without qualifying teams have shelled out cash to air the games. Fox Sports paid $425 million for the rights to air the World Cup, only to have the US team lose to Trinidad and Tobago in qualifying rounds. A second major sponsor from a country we won’t see on the field is a dairy company in China, who put $835 million in advertising.

According to a Bing study of the French games, you’re inclined to spend even if you watch from the comfort of your living room. Naturally, you’ll need something to eat while watching your favorite team battle for glory. Across Europe, Dominos made quick work of the opportunity and saw a 14.9% increase in pizza sales from its European franchises for a total of 375 million GBP during the last World Cup. That’s a lot of pies.

Final Round

Tourism, sponsorship, television and online sales are really just the beginning of the monetary potential of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. From June 14 to July 15 this year, Russia’s $11.6 billion spent on preparing for the games will be enjoyed by estimates of over a million tourists throughout the course of the month.

As for FIFA, these games are a chance to recuperate from what it’s financial report called, “High expenses in 2016 due to costs related to legal investigations.” The company seems poised to move ahead unencumbered.

And you, dear fans, are the reason why.

Nicole Edwards

Nicole Edwards is a fashion and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. She has worked as Associate Publisher of Private Islands magazine and Lifestyle Editor of Style Empire, and has contributed to NOW Magazine.