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FIFA announces $369 million loss with worse to come

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FIFA announced a $369 million loss for 2016, a second straight annual deficit, as it recovers from scandals that have rocked world football and acknowledged it had to use hundreds of millions of dollars of its reserves.

The game’s world governing body blamed the cost of investigating the scandals, bad investments and accounting changes. But there is worse to come for the organization, which is rebuilding after its near collapse at the end of the tainted Sepp Blatter era. It expects to lose $489 million, before tax, in 2017 before a World Cup revenue bonanza in 2018 rescues the accounts.

FIFA’s losses for 2015-2017 are set to hit $910 million (855 million euros) even though it revised its 2015 deficit down from $122 million to $52 million. Revenues fell to $502 million in 2016 from $544 million in 2015.

FIFA said its reserves had fallen from $1.4 billion in 2015 to $1.04 billion in 2016 and they are expected to crash to $605 million this year.

FIFA is banking on making $1.1 billion in profits in 2018 when the World Cup is held in Russia, which would give a surplus of about $100 million for the organization’s four-year accounting cycle.

The organization said the bumper profits, mainly from television deals, would help bring its reserves back to $1.7 billion in 2018. Since a police raid on a FIFA congress hotel in May 2015 when seven football officials were arrested, Blatter and his two top deputies, secretary general Jerome Valcke and finance officer Markus Kattner, have been suspended or fired.

The three awarded themselves huge bonuses and pay rises during their final years in power and all face criminal investigation.

New FIFA president Gianni Infantino took over promising reform but also higher payments to the 200-plus national federations that are now costing FIFA dearly. Infantino said “2016 was a turning point when the first and vital steps to restore trust in the organisation were taken. (AFP)

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