US national team celebrate in Columbus

Could US Soccer be in store for a $13 million World Cup windfall?

Everyone knows that making it to the FIFA World Cup is a big deal.

But how about $13 million big?

That’s the reported sum that Costa Rica expects FIFA to disburse to national teams after qualifying for Brazil 2014. Costa Rica and the US national team were the first two countries to qualify from the CONCACAF region earlier this month.

“The last communication from FIFA was $13 million and that's what I've been informed by the federation treasury,” Costa Rican national team commission president Adrián Gutiérrez told La Nación.

FIFA informed via e-mail that “the prize money will be announced after the Organizing Committee meeting, on 3 December 2013” and that “as in 2010, there will be financial assistance to cover the teams' preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”

The U.S. Soccer Federation also confirmed that it had not yet received specific information from FIFA on the exact payout for advancing to the World Cup.

But if the $13 million referred to by the Costa Rican federation executive is anywhere near accurate, it would project to be a huge injection of funds for USSF budgets.

Not so fast.

A USSF spokesman confirmed that “no matter what it is, the vast majority of the funds go toward player appearances, bonuses and per diem” as per the collective bargaining agreement that exists with the US national team players union.

“It’s not a major windfall going into our account,” said USSF spokesman Neil Buethe. “The vast majority of the funds we received from FIFA for qualifying for previous World Cups went towards player appearances, bonuses and per diem. We expect that to be the same for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”

The USMNT players union, US National Soccer Team Players, declined to discuss or disclose any bonuses or compensation for players, but according to U.S. Soccer, the cut for US squad members amounted to about 90 percent of the FIFA disbursement in the last World Cup.

Compare that to the 10-15 percent slice of the pie that Costa Rica is planning to award its players from the 2014 World Cup lump sum for qualifying and no wonder US players were celebrating so hard at Columbus Crew Stadium after they learned they were officially in Brazil.

“The [Costa Rican] players will receive between 10 and 15 percent of the amount and the percentage for the coach is an amount that I’m not authorized to reveal,” Costa Rica’s Gutiérrez told La Nación. "The coach’s amount is a different calculation."

So what do the ticos do with the rest of their cash? While those details will be finalized at a federation meeting in December, according to the La Nación report, there is a plan for the Costa Rican governing body to disburse a sum of those FIFA monies to the different leagues in the country as well as setting aside some for the Costa Rican youth national teams and the federation's own coffers.

“Obviously, we need to give money to the leagues, but we have to keep in mind that we have to give economic consideration to the youth national teams, which are our future, and the federation itself,” continued Gutiérrez. “Because the two years after the World Cup are hard as far as sponsorship and ticket revenue.”

With players claiming such a large share of the FIFA bonus in the case of the USA, sponsorship and ticketing revenues are two specific areas that the USSF hopes will benefit from the boost that comes with being in the World Cup spotlight, especially given the tournament's ability to capture the attention of mainstream America.

“It’s exposure,” Buethe said. “People who watch the World Cup might find it interesting enough to check out a national team game the next time U.S. Soccer is in their city for a qualifier or a friendly.

“Qualifying to the World Cup is hugely beneficial.”

What do you think of the way the USA and Costa Rica split up their FIFA winnings? Tell us in the comment section below.

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