The stage is set for the World Cup Final.
This World Cup has seen players from all over the globe travel to Qatar to represent their country.
But what about the domestic clubs that these players play for? How are they compensated for letting their players feature for their countries on the biggest stage of all.
The mandatory release of players by clubs for the competition has seen an unprecedented break in the middle of the season for several top leagues throughout Europe.
While lower divisions continued with their campaigns over the last six weeks, those sides out of action will have used that time to regroup and get set for what is going to be a congested fixture calendar once domestic football resumes.
However, that is not to say teams will not have one eye on what has happened in Qatar – not just for what was happening on the pitch, but also the bank balance.
Aligned with previous World Cups, FIFA once again implemented the FIFA Club Benefits Program, a scheme that promotes international football and compensates the teams that release their players for the competition.
But how does it work?
The FIFA Club Benefits Programme for Qatar 2022 allocated USD $209M (gross amount prior to taxes and deductions) to be distributed to clubs across the world with players featuring at the tournament.
Now that may seem like a great deal of money in total, but this amount approximately works out at $10,000 per player each day they are competing at the World Cup with the official preparation period having started on November 14.
The ideal situation for teams would be to have players at the tournament that warm the bench – clubs are eligible to this compensation regardless of the minutes played by their players.
This means clubs will receive money for simply allowing a player join their respective international squad.
Clubs are required to apply before the tournament for the FIFA Club Benefits Programme (for the first time, teams have been able to apply digitally through the FIFA PF Landscape platform), and once accepted, a calculated figure of payment is distributed via member associations.
Clubs will have read the fine print of the FIFA Club Benefits Programme as compensation is capped to USD 370,000 per player per tournament.
A scale of success in the competition is utilised by the governing body to work out how much a team should receive – players eliminated in the group stages will earn their sides USD 180,000 while those reaching the final will get around USD 370,000.
FIFA’s calculations method also include an inclusive rule to benefit the clubs for which a player has played for during the two years before a World Cup.
This pro rata basis rule can be shown by Italian side AS Roma – they received compensation for Antonio Rüdiger’s participation in Russia with Germany four years ago even though it was Chelsea that released the centre back at the time the tournament took place.
Even though this compensation is obviously a way to promote international football and help clubs economically, there is an argument that the FIFA Club Benefits Programme does not benefit every side, especially those who compete in UEFA competitions.
If we take a look over the figures of the FIFA Club Benefits Programme for 2018, teams competing in UEFA-based competitions received the highest amount of money.
In this regard, 254 of the 416 benefited clubs were clubs affiliated to UEFA member associations and represented the 76% of the total amount paid.
So who were the biggest earners of from FIFA Club Benefits Programme in Russia?
In terms of members associations, England (USD 37M), Spain (USD 22M) and Germany (USD 18M) received much more than other confederations such as CONMEBOL – Argentina and Brazil only received USD 2.7M per member association.
Manchester City (USD 5M), Real Madrid (USD 4.8M) and Tottenham (USD 4.3M) were among the highest earners for teams.
There were no teams outside of UEFA competitions that were in the top 10 club earners – Al Hilal (USD 2M) and Boca Juniors (USD 1.1M) topped the table for sides outside of Europe.
Such clubs may come out of the World Cup with a positive balance sheet, but wage bills around the world will be much lower than that of Europe – teams may earn millions just by having players jet to Qatar, but they are still obliged to pay their weekly wages.
While a club like Paris Saint-Germain may earn a few million from the programme, this is unlikely to cover Kylian Mbappe’s reported weekly wage of over one million euros alone for the duration of the tournament.
Clubs releasing several players at the tournament like Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid will not be sufficiently compensated for the salaries of players due to high wages and the amount paid by FIFA, and while the initial thought may be to hope for as much money as possible, that risk is then weighed against stars perhaps picking up an injury.
What is a couple of thousand each day to a club such as Newcastle United in their race for European football if the likes of Bruno Guimarães or Kieran Trippier get injured?
While compensation is a good idea on paper to promote international football and compensate clubs, it is far from an adequate and fair compensation system for teams with several players in action and does not properly address the high salaries which exist in Europe.
Whether that speaks to the issue of overly inflated wages in Europe is another matter, but clubs throughout the continent will be hoping for an early flight home free of injury for most of their stars.
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