World football's governing body FIFA is to increase prize money at next year's World Cup despite stalled sponsorship sales. FIFA has also elected not to intervene in a standoff between Israel and Palestine.
The winners of the 2018 soccer World Cup in Russia will receive $38 million (€32.8 million) from a prize fund that has increased to $400 million, football's governing body FIFA announced on Friday.
At a meeting of the FIFA Council in the Indian city of Kolkata, FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced each participating country would receive at least $8 million at next year's tournament well as $1.5 million to assist with preparations.
The increase was "a positive sign in terms of the healthy financial situation of FIFA," said Infantino, insisting the increase was a sign the organization had moved on from a raft of past scandals.
"Two years ago FIFA could not even speak to any broadcaster or any commercial sponsor because it was considered to be a toxic mark," said the president.
Germany was awarded $35 million for winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which came from a $358 million prize fund. The second place prize will also increase by $3 million from the $25 million runners-up Argentina received in 2014.
The prize for the third and fourth place teams will increase $2 million from $24 million and $22 million respectively. The reward for quarterfinalists will also see a $2 million increase to $16 million, while those eliminated from the round of 16 will receive $12 million, a $3 million increase.
The World Cup is expected to bring FIFA more than $5 billion in revenue despite stalled sponsorship sales amid corruption investigations in the United States and Switzerland.
"Today the doors are open, the revenues come in and the revenues will exceed the budget certainly," Infantino said.
FIFA also decided it will stay out of a dispute between the Israeli and Palestine football associations.
The two FAs are currently at loggerheads because six teams from lower divisions of the Israeli league are based in settlements on the occupied West Bank and play matches there. The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) claims this is contrary to FIFA statutes, which state that a member country's teams cannot play matches on the territory of another association without permission.
"FIFA has decided to refrain from imposing any sanctions or other measures on either the Israel FA or the Palestinian FA," Infantino said. "These territories are a concern for the international public law authorities and FIFA has to remain neutral."
Infantino added that FIFA recognizes "where our limits unfortunately are" and declared the dispute "closed."
dv/rt (AP, Reuters)