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EMAILED ON April 13, 2018 BY THE HUSTLE

SoftBank plays ball with $25B plan to globalize FIFA’s Club World Cup

According to the Financial Times, Japan’s SoftBank has joined a consortium of investors backing a plan to create global soccer tournaments for FIFA (the sport’s governing body) and solidify soccer’s place as the most popular sport on the planet.

The current Club World Cup is held every year with 7 teams from around the world — the new tournament, to be played every 4 years, would include 24 teams starting in 2021, introduce another national team competition held every 2 years, and reportedly guarantee revenues of $25B a year.

Who’s a part of this mysterious “consortium”

Outside of SoftBank, little is know about the identities of the other investors. According to FT’s sources, it includes investors from China, Saudi Arabia, the US, and United Arab Emirates.

Centricus (the UK-based investment platform whose founders notably helped SoftBank raise its $100B Vision Fund), is rumored to be the ringleader.

FIFA’s been going through a rough patch

The institution’s financial situation has been precarious after falling to corruption and bribery back in 2015, and posting a $369m loss in 2016. But FIFA’s new prez wants to change the way they run things — outsourcing their competition to a third party and taking a 51% stake.

The New York Times (which first reported the offer) says that the FIFA Council has requested more info on the proposal — but, currently, the Club World Cup is worth less than $100m, so half of $25B ain’t lookin’ too bad.

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