FIFA’s World Cup Club Fund Offers Tidy Windfall for MLS Teams

This week, FIFA invited teams around the world to apply for a piece of the $209 million fund the organization set aside for this year’s Club Benefits Program—which pays cash to clubs whose players participate in the 2022 World Cup.

Soccer’s global governing body will distribute $10,000 to clubs for each day their relevant player remains in next month’s competition, including during the official preparation period. To receive the money, a player has to be with the club team for at least two years before the World Cup.

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The program launched in 2010, ahead of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, as part of a agreement between FIFA and the European Club Association. FIFA distributed $40 million to club teams in 2010 and $70 million to clubs for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

In 2015, FIFA announced that it was moving the 2022 World Cup in Qatar out of the summer months to November and December—the middle of the European soccer season—to avoid the intense Qatari heat. FIFA also dramatically increased the amount of money distributed to the clubs through the program to $209 million—a 198% bump—for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

While $10,000 per player per day doesn’t make a big difference for major European clubs for sending their star players to Qatar in the middle of European soccer season, the payoff can be a boon to smaller clubs around the world, especially those from the MLS.

The average MLS salary of the eight MLS players with the best chance to be on the USMNT squad is $1,106,225, but club salary averages are way below that. The MLS Players Association’s yearly report shows the average guaranteed compensation for the 2022 season was $472,008, with a median of $248,333.

For example, the average player’s salary in FC Dallas is $689,000, and the yearly wage bill for all the players combined is $15,030,000, which makes them the ninth highest-paying club in MLS.

If the USMNT bows out of the tournament after the three games in the group stage, each national team player’s club will receive $180,000. At the end of the round of 16, the amount will be $220,000, and if the team makes it to the quarterfinals, FIFA will give a total of $280,000 to each player’s club. That’s enough to fully fund one median-salaried MLS player for a season—or four players making the league minimum of $65,500.

In 2018, 416 clubs from 63 member associations were eligible to receive money, according to FIFA. In this edition of the World Cup, approximately 832 players will be playing for 32 national teams.

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