LANE ONE: Show me the money! Our exclusive research on the finances of the International Federations, part 1

The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent postponement of the Games of the XXXIInd Olympiad in Tokyo to 2021 has put a hole in the finances of many of the International Federations which govern the individual sports on the Olympic program.

The International Olympic Committee announced last week that it will set aside $150 million to help the IFs, National Olympic Committees and others to help get through the current crisis. In addition, the Swiss government will also provide assistance to those IFs which are based in Switzerland.

The International Handball Federation and the International Weightlifting Federation have signaled that they do not require such assistance, and FIFA has plenty of money and will be using its exceptional resources to help its own member federations.

So how does everyone else stand? We surveyed the finances of the IFs with sports in the summer Olympic program back in 2018. Let’s see how they’ve done since:

(Many of the IFs report their finances in Swiss Francs [CHF], which are quite close in value to U.S. dollars. As of 20 May 2020, 1 Swiss franc = $1.04 U.S.)

Archery ● The World Archery Federation publishes annual financial statements and its 2019 filing showed CHF 3.66 million in revenue against CHF 6.83 million in expenses for a loss of CHF 3.16 million. Results for 2018 were also tough, with a loss of CHF 3.81 million. The federation had reserves of CHF 2.59 million at the end of 2019.

Athletics ● World Athletics – formerly known as the IAAF – has never published any financial information, although some numbers have seeped out recently. In its Executive Board application notice in 2019, the introduction stated that “Its headquarters are in Monaco with 90 full time staff. It has turnover of circa USD 40 million.” Other sources have placed annual revenues at about $55 million, and the federation is planning to release financial information this year.

Apparently, the clean-up of the accounting mess created during the Lamine Diack years – he’s still under house arrest in France and awaiting trial on extortion, bribery and money-laundering charges – has required more time than originally thought.

Badminton ● The Badminton World Federation issues annual financial statements, with the latest covering calendar year 2019. Registered in Malaysia, the BWF had a losing year at the bank in 2019, with revenues of $25.79 million – down $4.15 million from 2018 – and operating expenses of $28.27 million for a loss of $2.48 million. There were some financial-item adjustments which helped and the loss for 2019 was reduced to $1.81 million. That’s a big dive from a surplus of $4.69 million in 2018, mostly due to lower tournament revenues. The BWF is quite healthy, however, with unrestricted reserves of $39.72 million as of the end of last year.

Basketball ● FIBA does not publish financial statements, but includes financial information its showy Activity Report and related documentation. The latest is the “Activity Report 2017-2019″ which actually covers financial results through the end of 2018. For the period of 2015-18, FIBA took in CHF 324.2 million and spent CHF 336.8 million. For 2018, income was CHF 98.3 million and expenses were CHF 103.6 million.

However, FIBA appears to be financially sound, with about CHF 44.4 million in equity reserves at the end of 2018. And with a successful men’s World Cup in China in 2019, its ledger should have been better last year. Its principal financial driver is the men’s and women’s World Cups; marketing and television rights brought in 65% of its revenues from 2015-18.

Boxing ● The AIBA is the saddest of all of the IFs in the summer Olympic program, as it is on suspension from the IOC and deeply in debt. Its last posted financial report was a six-months snapshot ending 31 December 2018, showing a total accumulated debt of CHF 16.93 million. Ouch!

But that’s a couple million better than at the end of 2017! For the six months from July-December 2018 – the period examined by the new auditors – AIBA had revenues of CHF 4.26 million and operating expenses of CHF 3.50 million, a surplus of CHF ~761,000 … with CHF 2.26 million in IOC revenue pro-rated into this period. That money was received in 2016 and 2017; taking that 53% of AIBA revenues out of the picture, AIBA lost CHF 1.49 million in the last six months of 2018. Oy.

Canoeing ● The International Canoe Federation has posted financial statements, with the last one for 2018 (after posting nothing for 2017). For 2018, the ICF had just CHF 872,579 in total revenues and CHF 3.85 million in expenses for an operating loss of CHF 2.97 million; after financial adjustments, the total annual loss was CHF 3.01 million Yikes!

The ICF’s total reserves stood at CHF 17.00 million at the end of 2018. Worth noting: it received CHF 15.11 million from the IOC in 2016-17 for its share of Olympic TV rights.

Cycling ● The Union Cycliste International (UCI) publishes its financial information in its lengthy Annual Report, with the last issue available covering 2018. In that year, UCI took in CHF 40.25 million in revenues and had CHF 46.20 million in expenses for an operating loss of CHF 5.95 million. However, there was a further investment loss, so the total loss for 2018 was CHF 7.35 million.

The UCI shows CHF 26.59 million in investment reserves and CHF 45.19 million in total capital. It’s biggest drivers are, as always, road cycling, following by Mountain Biking.

Equestrian ● The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) publishes comprehensive financial statements, but they can be tough to find. The latest disclosure was from 2018, presented as part of the federation’s Annual Report.

The statements show CHF 62.58 million in revenue, with CHF 27.77 million from sponsorship and CHF 7.07 million in calendar fees and dues. Operating expenses were CHF 58.85 million, and after investment losses of CHF 3.01 million, the net was still CHF 724,148. The FEI is quite healthy overall, with CHF 57.67 million in cash and securities shown on its balance sheet.

Fencing ● The Federation Internationale de Escrime (FIE) does publish financial statements, buried in its “Information Letters” to member federations. For 2018, the report shows CHF 6.11 million in total income, including a CHF 5.0 million donation from federation chief Alisher Usmanov (RUS). Operating expenses were CHF 8.73 million for a loss of CHF 2.62 million.

However, there were good investment results and another Usmanov donation of CHF 11.34 million for the FIE’s 105th anniversary activities (which cost CHF 6.31 million), so all together, the federation had a surplus of CHF 2.78 million for the year. As of the end of 2018, the FIE had CHF 29.10 million in reserves, almost entirely due to Usmanov’s donations. As long as Usmanov keeps giving, the FIE will thrive.

Football ● The most successful federation by many miles, FIFA publishes extensive financial statements. The last statements on file are for 2018, showing U.S. $4.64 billion in revenue and a surplus of $1.81 billion, primarily from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Reserves are $2.74 billion, even more than the IOC.


Golf ● The International Golf Federation is small, with its primary task to organize the playing of the sport in international events like the Olympic Games. Its financial report for 2018 showed revenue of CHF 553,891 and expenses of CHF 2.23 million for a loss of CHF 1.68 million. That wiped out most of the federation’s reserves, and the balance sheet showed assets of just CHF 389,052 at the end of 2018.

As the IGF is simply a proxy for the quite-wealthy golf tours that support it, its future is assumed to be quite well assured, regardless of how much is or isn’t in the bank at any one time.

Gymnastics ● The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique is one of those groups that never posted anything about its finances for years. That finally changed in 2019, as it posted financial statements for 2018. That was updated with 2019 statements, that showed CHF 16.65 million in revenue – that’s all – and CHF 15.57 million in expenses. That operating surplus of CHF 1.08 million was helped by investment income that pushed the final, year-end surplus to CHF 3.04 million.

The federation has good reserves of CHF 47.65 million, impressive for such a (surprisingly) low-revenue sport.

Handball ●The International Handball Federation posts an odd-looking summary of its financial statements in the documents section for its 2019 Congress. It explains why the IHF does not need any help from the IOC to outlast the coronavirus pandemic.

The federation realized television rights sales for its men’s and women’s World Championships in 2017 of CHF 22.00 million, and CHF 12.13 in 2018. All together, IHF revenues were CHF 32.38 million in 2017 and CHF 19.13 million in 2018, with net surpluses in those years of CHF 17.90 million and almost CHF 8 million.

At the end of 2018, the IHF had financial reserves of CHF 131.24 million. No need for help.

Hockey ● The Federation Internationale de Hockey (FIH) has financial statements available back to 2013. The most current ends in 2018 and showed that CHF 13.54 million in revenue – including the pro-rated IOC contribution of CHF 4.13 million – and operating expenses of CHF 12.55 million.

The remainder of CHF 983,147 was reduced to CHF 436,195 by some non-operating losses and another CHF 748,560 for the 2019 launch of the FIH Pro League left the year at a loss of CHF 313,364. The balance sheet shows reserves of CHF 6.69 million, down from 10.96 million at the close of 2017.

That’s a thumbnail sketch on the first 14 IFs in alphabetical order. We’ll have the remaining 14 in our next issue, following by more analysis.

Although the numbers may be somewhat blinding, it is worth noting that 13 of these first 14 have posted at least financial summaries, if not actual financial statements. Only World Athletics is outstanding (so far).

Even these summary numbers show that many of the federations are, frankly, in rough shape as going concerns if not for the IOC’s quadrennial distribution of a portion of its television rights fees. Stay tuned for more.

Rich Perelman

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