The Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group has set its sights on FIFA. It has joined a body of investors, a consortium that is planning to spend $25 billion to create international tournaments for FIFA, the international governing body of football, reported the Financial Times.
The consortium has investors from Saudi Arabia, China, and the United States as well, and the group is looking at a 12-year-deal where they plan to add two major international tournaments to the soccer calendar.
One of these is a new league competition for national teams, and the other to expand a Club World Cup. The latter is an annual competition, which has seven clubs in a knock-out event. The Associated Press reported that FIFA will have a 51 percent stake in the venture. Reuters said that SoftBank has declined to comment.
This is not SoftBank’s first foray into football leagues and sports clubs. The Group owns the Fukuko SoftBank Hawks, formerly known as the Nankai Hawks, a Japanese baseball team which was bought by SoftBank Corporation in 2005. The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks has won 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2018 Japan Series. Last year Masayoshi Son, the Founder and CEO of SoftBank, became one of the partners for famous British footballer David Beckham’s Major League Soccer expansion team.
In 2017, SoftBank also invested $1 billion in Fanatics Inc, an American sports merchandise industry. According to a KPMG report, the global sports industry, at one percent of global GDP, is estimated to be worth around US$600-700 million, and this includes everything, from sports events, hospitality, training and infrastructure to manufacturing and retail of sports goods.
Sports remains not just a popular but a lucrative investment. Also, if FIFA is planning to add more tournaments, things are only going to warm up and become exciting. With more interest from conglomerates like SoftBank and other investors, it will be exciting to see how the industry continues to grow.