Football

Infantino plays down losses, says Fifa's finances are 'extremely solid'

Fifa president Gianni Infantino claimed yesterday that the finances of football's governing body were "extremely solid", despite it posting a US$369 million (S$518m) loss earlier this year.

Speaking at the Asian Football Confederation's congress in Bahrain, Infantino said the losses were in line with Fifa's "business model" and there was no need for it to give "artificial" figures.

"In spite of what some have been trying to write or to say, Fifa's finances are extremely solid," Infantino told delegates in a short address.

He added that it was normal for Fifa to make losses for three years and then "make revenue" during the fourth financial year, when a World Cup takes place.

"That's how the business model is conducted," he added.

"We don't need to tell you other stories, we don't need to make our figures artificial (or) look better by some accounting measures.

"The situation is that the finances of Fifa are extremely solid."

Fifa has said previously that its losses could increase throughout this year, but its finances will rebound in 2018 to a profit of US$1 billion, largely due to TV deals from the World Cup in Russia.

Infantino was speaking a day after Fifa formally announced a partnership deal with Qatar Airways for the Gulf carrier to be its "official airline" for a host of major tournaments, including the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Under the terms of the deal - unlikely to appease Fifa critics - the Gulf carrier will also sponsor the 2017 Confederations Cup, the Club World Cup and the Women's World Cup.

It comes as Fifa struggles to find new sponsors since corruption scandals which engulfed football's governing body in 2015.

Yesterday's congress also saw the AFC finally elect members to the all-powerful Fifa Council.

China's Zhang Jian, South Korea's Chung Mong Gyu and the Philippines' Mariano Araneta were all elected unopposed.

The third seat was made available after Kuwaiti powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, who is facing corruption allegations in the United States, stood down. He has denied the allegations.

The council seat reserved for a woman delegate was won by Bangladesh's Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, who beat Australia's high-profile candidate Moya Dodd 27 votes to 17. - AFP

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