May 11 – FIFA may have reported record financial results at its Congress in Kigali last month, and an eye-catching $11 billion revenue projection for the present World Cup cycle until 2026, but concerns within FIFA’s membership are growing over the explosion of spending and increase in costs.
That concern over spend includes money allocated to consultants and freelancers with huge sums being paid to so-called strategy consultants.
While the size of payments has raised eyebrows, there has also been disquiet around the work these consultants have conducted, with reports that they have been employed to conduct politically-motivated objectives in alignment with president Gianni Infantino’s personal objectives within the organisation, rather than on football focussed work.
Insideworldfootball has seen two payment confirmations made to Argentinian Gonzalo Belloso, each for $88,000, made July 28, 2022 and October 10, 2022. The payments show a remittance to Belloso of just under $30,000 monthly.
Belloso’s work for FIFA was supposedly as a strategic advisor for South America, reporting to Infantino’s right hand man when it comes to federation politics, Mattias Grafstrom. He was paid handsomely for the role that he held for a year from February 2022 until he resigned in January 2023, a month after the World Cup completed in Qatar (see letter in tweet below).
During that time it appears he was paid over $350,000 by FIFA with his expenses on top. The strategy advice he delivered to FIFA is unclear though with Infantino’s relationship with Conmebol strained, insiders say his work was political.
Belloso was a former deputy general secretary of Conmebol and certainly well connected within South America’s federations. But why FIFA needed a strategy consultant rather than dealing directly with Conmebol and its individual federations raises questions over the ethics of the appointment and whether the level of spend was appropriate.
In his resignation letter Belloso said he was returning to club football and to focus on his work with his club Rosario.
Belloso is not FIFA’s only ‘strategy’ consultant working outside the confederation structures, according to Insideworldfootball sources.
The murky world of political consultants is not FIFA’s only areas of huge spend. The launch of FIFA+ has been expensive with huge staffing and freelance costs and an unclear business plan, the Women’s World Cup has major costs attached but has not excited the broadcast and sponsor support expected, while FIFA’s ending of its video gaming license with EA Sports for its FIFA game in favour of developing its own game looks to have turned a $100 million revenue stream into multi-million loss situation.
FIFA can of course afford it, and the expense of multiple consultants walking the political corridors.
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