FIFA is considering moving its commercial business to the US

Football association FIFA wants to expand its global presence beyond closed headquarters to the zoo on the outskirts of Zurich and is examining the possible relocation of its commercial business finance engine. That brings billions of dollars in revenue for the organization, for the United States.

Possible courses will be dictated by technical factors including the suitability of the sites at the two banks, the ease with which foreign workers can obtain work visas, and tax regulations, according to an official who spoke publicly with direct knowledge of the discussions. He denies it as the final decision is waiting. Joint deals are an integral part of FIFA’s business: they control sales of FIFA sponsorship and broadcasting rights, which are some of the most profitable assets in world sport.

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After Gianni Infantino was elected President in 2016, FIFA plans to expand its presence beyond its glass and steel headquarters east of Zurich. It has opened an office in Paris where most of its staff, which handles development and relations with its 211 members, will be based at some point.

Officials hope that the relocation of commercial operations to a major US city will help FIFA attract and retain key employees, amid concerns that their current home is an obstacle to talent recruitment. . Local regulations require FIFA to employ a certain number of Swiss employees.

There is also interest in a FIFA spin-off from Zurich – in part – to repair his reputation and loosen ties to his troubled past in Switzerland, the country where he has been based since 1932.

In 2015, as part of a detailed investigation by the US Department of Justice, several members of the FIFA Executive Board were arrested in Zurich for exposing corrupt practices spanning at least two decades. The scandal led to the ouster of longtime FIFA President Sepp Blatter and most of the organization’s executives.

It was unthinkable to move FIFA to the United States immediately after his arrest, as this would make the organization’s managers, operations, and financial accounts available to American employees. (Some former FIFA officials may not have set foot in North America since the scandal for fear of arrest.) But life in Switzerland now has problems.

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Infantino, who succeeded Blatter as FIFA president a year after the attack, faces a year-long investigation into his relationship with former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lober. Lauber, who was forced to leave after it was revealed he had a private meeting with Infantino, was in charge of the Swiss investigation into the US allegations in 2015. Several allegations were uncovered in this investigation.

The failure of the Swiss authorities to act on corruption is disappointing on the part of FIFA’s current management, which, given the amount of evidence gleaned from the search of FIFA headquarters, expressed personal disbelief at the inaction of the inaction. At the same time, Infantino’s investigation sparked a strong reaction which the FIFA Secretary General described as “a little strange and unfair”.

FIFA’s attempt to relocate some of its operations from Zurich is seen by insiders as a necessary step for an organization looking to deviate from its decades-long working methods. For example, the move to Paris gave development staff and union members easier access to Africa, a region run by FIFA following a separate corruption scandal involving regional association presidents. most take complete control. Continent.

“Our goal to make football truly global is what FIFA needs to have a more balanced and global organizational structure,” Infantino said at the opening of the Paris office in June.

FIFA was founded in Paris in 1904, but moved to Zurich in 1932 due to Switzerland’s location in the heart of Europe, its political neutrality and “accessibility by rail” according to the schedule on the FIFA website. In 2007, FIFA moved to its current main building on a hill above Zurich. Known as the FIFA House, the building cost more than $200 million and has several underground floors, including a soundproofed marble floor that is used to hold council meetings.

The extent to which the organization should maintain a presence in Switzerland remains to be seen by FIFA officials. Lausanne, chairman of the International Olympic Committee, actively recruits such an organization and is known as the “Silicon Valley of Sport”.

The impetus for such a significant change is the FIFA symbol at Infantino. As a Swiss citizen, he tried, with mixed results, to make major changes to the way FIFA and football work. You’ve expanded the World Cup, which accounts for more than 90 percent of FIFA’s revenue, from 32 countries currently to 48 teams. But their attempts to impose other innovations and strengthen FIFA’s influence in club football have often failed, as is their current ambition to bring the four-year World Cup to the stage of European football every two years. There is a threat of a major battle with the authorities and even with the International Olympic Committee.

The move to the United States will allow FIFA to expand its business in a country whose employees believe it will continue to benefit from football at a level equivalent to where the sport is played in other parts of the world. . Weather will allow FIFA to better control preparations for the 2026 World Cup, the first edition of the expanded tournament; The tournament is hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

However, due to its proximity to Wall Street and major US corporations, some FIFA executives argue that they are looking for partners to fund new events and invest in the growing popularity of women’s football, while also increasing revenue significantly. There will be opportunities.