LANE ONE: Who’s in the money? EXCLUSIVE analysis of our survey of International Federation finances

/Updated to include new posting for Modern Pentathlon/ Each of the International Federations which have a sport on the program of the Olympic Games is its own fiefdom, setting its own rules and governing their programs as they fit. Some are big, some are small; a few are rich and most are not-so-rich.

A familiar refrain among observers was expressed with clarity by the senior member of the International Olympic Committee, former Canadian swimming star Dick Pound. During a 12 May interview with, he noted that the IOC has agreed to help support IFs, National Olympic Committees and other sport-related organization during the coronavirus pandemic. He added:

“International Federations and National Olympic Committees have come to depend, more and more and perhaps to too great an extent, on their share of the [IOC’s television] revenues.

“Some of the receipts are going to be deferred until after the Games take place and one of the questions we will have to wrestle with is, do we have to finance the next year’s activities to enable them to prepare for the Games a year later and the deferred revenue comes in after the Games has finished?

“The IOC is certainly capable of doing something because we have been putting money aside for the proverbial rainy day for some years now and have a little bit of a war chest that is available.

“You have to be careful in managing your money and while we would like to help, and probably will help, part of it will involve the IFs coming clean on their actual state of their financial affairs and that has always been more closely guarded than nuclear secrets.”

Well, maybe not so much as supposed.

As we shared over the last week, 27 of the 28 International Federations with sports on the program of the Olympic Games make available either audited financial statements (24), or harder-to-find summaries of their finances in Congress minutes and similar proceedings (3: Basketball, Equestrian and Volleyball). With a late posting by the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), only World Athletics shares nothing.

(For reference: Part 1 covered Archery to Hockey and Part 2 included Judo through Wrestling. This was our second IF finances survey; for our 2018 review, click here.)

So who stands where? Let’s survey the financial standing of the IFs with a look at their finances from two different viewpoints (all amounts converted to U.S. dollars; 1 CHF = $1.04) from the last reported year:

IF rankings by annual revenue

There was FIFA and then everyone else. Note that, in the year last reported, 10 of the 28 IFs had revenues of $10 million or less (and no information was available for Modern Pentathlon):

1.  $ 4.64 billion (2018) ~ Football (FIFA)
2.  $102.2 million (2018) ~ Basketball (FIBA)
3.  $72.84 million (2018) ~ Tennis (ITF)
4.  $65.34 million (2017) ~ Volleyball (FIVB)
5.  $65.08 million (2018) ~ Equestrian (FEI)
6.  $55.00 million (2019) ~ Athletics (World Athletics; estimate)
7.  $41.86 million (2018) ~ Cycling (UCI)
8.  $33.92 million (2018) ~ Aquatics (FINA)
9.  $33.46 million (2018) ~ Rugby (World Rugby)
10. $31.11 million (2018) ~ Judo (IJF)

11. $25.79 million (2019) ~ Badminton (BWF)
12. $21.35 million (2018) ~ Table Tennis (ITTF)
13. $19.89 million (2018) ~ Handball (IHF)
14. $17.32 million (2019) ~ Gymnastics (FIG)
15. $14.08 million (2018) ~ Hockey (FIH)
16. $11.89 million (2018) ~ Sailing (World Sailing: 3 entities)
17. $10.19 million (2018) ~ Taekwondo (World Taekwondo)
18. $ 8.52 million (2018 pro-rated) ~ Boxing (AIBA)
19. $ 8.04 million (2018) ~ Triathlon (ITU)
20. $ 7.11 million (2018) ~ Rowing (FISA)

21. $ 5.35 million (2017) ~ Shooting (ISSF)
22. $ 5.12 million (2017) ~ Wrestling (UWW)
23. $ 6.35 million (2018) ~ Fencing (FIE)
24. $ 4.10 million (2018) ~ Weightlifting (IWF)
25. $ 3.81 million (2019) ~ Archery (World Archery)
26. $ 0.87 million (2018) ~ Canoe & Kayak (ICF)
27. $ 0.59 million (2018) ~ Modern Pentathlon (UIPM)
28. $ 0.58 million (2018) ~ Golf (IGF)

As with all financial information, it’s important to note that these revenue rankings are only one year, and the last year reported. For most of the IFs, this is 2018, but some only have information publicly posted for 2017, and some already have their 2019 numbers available.

IF rankings by financial health: reserves vs. spending

More important today is not how much an IF takes in annually, but how deep are its reserves in this period of pandemic, when revenues are shrinking to nothing.

The relative health of the IFs is demonstrated in a ranking of IF reserves, and a reference to the annual spending of each in the last reported year (all figures in or converted to U.S. dollars):

1.  $ 2.74 billion reserves: Football (vs. $2.89 billion spending in 2018)
2.  $136.49 million reserves: Handball (vs. $12.13 million spending in 2018)
3.  $121.68 million reserves: Volleyball (vs. $60.54 million spending in 2017)
4.  $111.31 million reserves: Aquatics (vs. $47.53 million spending in 2018)
5.  $ 74.78 million reserves: Rugby (vs. $109.64 million spending in 2018)
6.  $ 59.98 million reserves: Equestrian (vs. $61.20 million spending in 2018)
7.  $ 55.25 million reserves: Tennis (vs. $72.63 million spending in 2018)
8.  $ 49.56 million reserves: Gymnastics (vs. $16.19 million spending in 2019)
9.  $ 47.00 million reserves: Cycling (vs. $48.05 million spending in 2018)
10. $ 46.18 million reserves: Basketball (vs. $107.74 million spending in 2018)

11. $ 39.72 million reserves: Badminton (vs. $28.27 million spending in 2019)
12. $ 36.75 million reserves: Wrestling (vs. $8.89 million spending in 2017)
13. $ 30.26 million reserves: Fencing (vs. $9.08 million spending in 2018)
14. $ 29.54 million reserves: Weightlifting (vs. $9.19 million spending in 2018)
15. $ 17.68 million reserves: Canoeing (vs. $4.00 million spending in 2018)
16. $ 17.30 million reserves: Table Tennis (vs. $20.14 million spending in 2018)
17. $ 13.27 million reserves: Taekwondo (vs. $10.31 million spending in 2018)
18. $ 13.22 million reserves: Rowing (vs. $7.36 million spending in 2018)
19. $ 11.51 million reserves: Triathlon (vs. $7.71 million spending in 2018)
20. $ 11.19 million reserves: Shooting (vs. $6.15 million spending in 2017)

21. $ 6.96 million reserves: Hockey (vs. $13.05 million spending in 2018)
22. $ 6.17 million reserves: Modern Pentathlon (vs. $4.29 million spending in 2018)
23. $ 5.30 million reserves: Sailing (vs. $13.99 million spending in 2018 [3 entities])
24. $ 4.82 million reserves: Judo (vs. $32.08 million spending in 2018)
25. $ 2.69 million reserves: Archery (vs. $7.10 million spending in 2019)
26. $ 0.40 million reserves: Golf (vs. $2.32 million spending in 2018)
27. $-16.93 million reserves: Boxing (vs. $7.00 million spending in 2018 [pro-rated])

(No information available for Athletics)

These are figures are not as exact as might be hoped, since they are based only on the financial information provided. For example, the counting of reserves does not count (1) possible borrowing or advancement of funds from a foundation or other organization allied with a federation, or (2) future revenues – such as TV contracts, sponsorships or hosting fees – already received or due, but which are shown as deferred assets, only to be assigned in the year of those events. For example, three IFs disclosed such revenues on their statements: Rugby, $204.45 million (!); Judo, $27.14 million; Cycling, $22.21 million.

Also, using one-year figures does not factor in when a lucrative (or costly) world championship might be held (or is not held). For example, FINA realized $81.44 million in 2017, when its World Aquatics Championships was held (with an annual surplus of $21.85 million), but only $33.92 million (and a big loss) in 2018. A much better – but much more complex – comparison would take in averages of four-year periods which include one Olympic Games (e.g., 2016-19); that’s for the IOC’s accounting team to explore.

But these figures are a useful indicator of who’s sailing and who is in some trouble. The house judgement:

Sailing (7):
● Football, Handball, Volleyball, Aquatics, Rugby, Tennis, Basketball
All have more than $30 million in annual revenue and good (if not excellent) reserves.

Stable (8):
● Equestrian, Gymnastics, Cycling, Badminton, Weightlifting, Wrestling, Judo, Golf
Equestrian and Judo have good revenue, but reported high costs. Cycling and Badminton have good revenue and have kept spending in check. Weightlifting and Wrestling have excellent reserves, but their modest revenues are a future concern. Golf is backed by a very well-funded professional tour program.

Concerned (7):
● Fencing, Canoeing, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Rowing, Triathlon, Shooting
Table Tennis has excellent revenues, but also high costs relative to its reserve. Fencing survives only on the donations of its Russian president (and billionaire) Alisher Usmanov. Canoeing, Taekwondo, Rowing, Triathlon and Shooting all reported thin revenues of $10 million or less in the last period; all of these IFs are careful spenders, but would be deeply challenged without their IOC television revenue shares.

Worried (5):
● Hockey, Sailing, Archery, Boxing, Modern Pentathlon.
Despite being invented by the legendary Pierre de Coubertin, the driving force behind the revival of the Olympic Games, Modern Pentathlon continues to be the subject of speculation as to whether it will continue on the program. Boxing is in deep trouble and the AIBA will undoubtedly dissolve if it is not reinstated as the governing body for the sport for the IOC. The IFs for Hockey, Sailing and Archery have modest reserves and all three appear dependent on their IOC television shares to stay afloat. The FIH has made an investment in its new Pro League, for which it has high hopes.

Unknown (1):
● Athletics
World Athletics has never published a financial statement and is under-revenued at a reported $55 million per year. But it has perhaps the highest ceiling of all … although isn’t that what’s said about this sport, year after year?

Pound expressed widely-felt concerns that the International Federations do not share their true financial standing publicly and should be held to account. As we have seen, there is some fairly good financial information available for 26 of the 28 summer IFs. But about half are no doubt already concerned or worried about their futures, especially with the delay of the Tokyo Games to 2021 … or, catastrophically, a cancellation beyond that.

Disagree? Don’t be shy with your comments (click here); we’re waiting to hear from you.

Rich Perelman

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