In what seems to be a very significant moment for sports, it appears that FIFA generated more income from video gaming than football last year. The newly published financial statement of the governing body reveals that out of its total $266.5 million (£191.9 million/€223.3 million) revenue last year, $158.9 million (£114.4 million/€133.2 million) came from licensing rights.

Explaining further about this, FIFA revealed that one major source of the revenue that came from licensing rights is the licensing of video games by the brand. In contrast to the many economic areas that the health crisis affected negatively, the video game industry was actually much more resistant to the effects of the health crisis.

Games like CS:GO saw a huge increase of both players and revenue. CS:GO gambling sites also saw an overall increase in online activity. This is mainly because CSGO skins have surged in value in recent months, thanks to games like CS:GO jackpot, roulette, crash and case opening.

Now, it’s not our desire to overlabor the impact of the moment, but we all know that 2020 was no typical year. From the 2022 world cup, which is the major income generator for FIFA, every other thing that happened within the four year cycle will be overcome. However, we may well be seeing a paradigm shift in the history of traditional sports governing bodies, where one generates more in a year from video games than from its major physical activity.

When you consider this based on the current trends, it seems not to be the last time this will happen. The prediction from InsideTheGames nine months ago was that FIFA’s biggest revenue in 2020 may come from licensing rights. As physical football was widely disrupted by the health crisis, the sport witnessed more expenses than revenue, expending up to $1.04 billion (£748.8 million/€871.5 million). Out of this amount, FIFA’s health crisis relief fund took $270.5 million (£194.8 million/€226.7 million), while $470.6 million (£338.8 million/€394.4 million) was used for education and development.

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Because of this, the body was left with a loss of $778 million (£560.2 million/€652 million) before taxes and financial income, which is seen as a bit better than the June 2020s published revised forecast of $794 million (£571.7 million/€665.4 million.

Though this amount is still a very huge one, FIFA’s total reserve as at 31st December 2020 according to the new balance sheet, even when it’s still up to 2 years before the next world cup, is down by $1.88 billion (£1.35 billion/€1.58 billion). This is against the $2.59 billion (£1.86 billion/€2.17 billion) that it stood at in 2019.

When you look further at video gaming, FIFA posited that apart from the FIFA eNations StayAndPlay Friendlies, FIFA eChallenger Series, and FIFA eClub World Cup, it succeeded in launching the FIFA eContinental Cup. Additionally, FIFAe was also introduced in 2020. This is a new esports tournament specifically meant to deliver a substantial stage for nations, clubs and players.

The increasing value of the licensing revenue to FIFA goes a long way in explaining why the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino was picked to preside over the body this time, together with Jean-Christophe Rolland, his counterpart in world rowing. They were meant to come in and encourage the growth and advancement of virtual sports, and also to further engage and interact with video gaming communities at the recently concluded session of the International Olympics Committee.

Speaking about the opportunity of bringing about changes in the sports, society and technology landscape, Infantino also emphasized on how their investment and focus on virtual types of sports has been accelerated by FIFA in the bid to engage and interact with young people more.

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While speaking on that occasion, Infantino also reiterated the importance of moving fast straight away. When you look at the statistics above, you’ll come to realize what FIFA is doing, and why it is doing it.

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