Bermuda to benefit from expected World Cup windfall
Bermuda may not have a team participating in the World Cup, but the game on island should still benefit financially from the expected windfall garnered from spectacular being held in Qatar.
Fifa has already announced a total prize money fund of $1 billion for this year’s event, with $440 million to be distributed between the 32 qualified teams at the finals, according to how they finish, while the remaining $660 million is to be distributed as solidarity payments for less developed federations, such as Bermuda.
An exact disbursement figure was not revealed, however Bermuda Football Association president Mark Wade noted that derived funds would be welcomed for use in the advancement of the sport at multiple levels.
“Following the World Cup, Fifa would inform its member association of future development initiatives and any corresponding grant funding and other resources to support these initiatives,” said Wade, noting how such was customary following every World Cup tournament, including that hosted by Russia in 2018.
“Bermuda received development support like all eligible 211 member associations through the various Fifa programmes. For example, the Fifa Forward Programme.
“Through the Fifa Forward Programme and other initiatives, Bermuda will be able to support infrastructure projects, national teams support, operational and administrative support, travel grant for national teams and equipment purchases. These funding grants are the same provided to all 211 Fifa member association and nothing special to the BFA.
“The BFA works closely with our Fifa Regional Development Office to implement initiatives that support football being played in Bermuda and internationally.”
Considering the popularity and profitability of the World Cup, Fifa has been promoting the idea of making what is currently an event held every four years into a biennial fixture. However, Wade was not keen on the notion, considering expenses commensurate with a qualifying campaign.
“Let’s be honest, the question for small nations is one of resources,” added Wade, who will be travelling to Doha next month with a BFA contingent, also including vice-president Shannon Burgess, and executive member Shequita Parsons, to attend the Fifa Executive Summit.
“Do we like the idea of playing more football? Absolutely! That is the reason why we exist! But can we afford to play in a biennial World Cup financially and with a small country pool of players who have jobs and other ambitions. There is a reality to what we can do regarding this issue.”
Even as Qatar was chosen as hosts more than a decade ago, varying opinions prevail as to the country’s worthiness for the part, with former Fifa president Seth Blatter recently quoted as saying that choosing the independent emirate was a “mistake”.
“For me it is clear: Qatar is a mistake. The choice was bad,” Blatter told the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. “It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”
What Blatter though failed to mention as part of his manner of reasoning was the deplorable human rights record of the wealthy Persian Gulf state, which utilised the Kafala system of employment for migrant workers, a system likened to that of indentured servitude.
A recent report by leading sports network ESPN also alleged payments of more than $1 million having been granted representatives of a number of African nations for votes in favour of Qatar.
Wade would not be drawn on such matters, noting that Bermuda did not have a position on Fifa's Executive Council and, as such, the BFA did not have a say in choosing Qatar as the host nation.
He added that he expected a stellar spectacle to be enjoyed regardless of any associated controversies, adding that changes had been made to employment practices within Qatar, much as a result of their being named World Cup hosts.
“Mr Blatter is entitled to his opinion,” said Wade of the comments made by the former world governing body’s head member, while also noting changes made to Qatar’s system of labour. “In 2016 the Kafala system was effectively abolished in Qatar.
“Everyone has an opinion on what has been in the media. The BFA nor Bermuda is involved and therefore our opinion for public consumption is irrelevant.”
Wade’s preference was to remain positive with regard to this year’s event and the sport itself, which continues to grow and thrive all over the world.
“It is the one truly global game with every country, nation, island affiliated with Fifa able to participate with a chance to qualify to the World Cup. The World Cup features the best teams and players of our sport,” he said. “The World Cup is a wonderful spectacle that delivers all the human emotions. Football is the game for life!”