In the past, the World Cup meant everything to national football teams; it was an opportunity to prove their team’s success to the world.
I recently came across an article that made me realize just how crucial the World Cup still is to a team’s success, and in turn, to the amount of funding they receive. In 1998, the Jamaican team, the Reggae Boyz, was the first English speaking country from the Caribbean to ever qualify for World Cup Finals. They received the “Best Mover” award from FIFA in 1995 for their newfound “powerhouse” status as they became serious contenders for the World Cup. Back then, funding for the national team was free flowing since they were reaping the benefits of success for Jamaica. Now however, funding isn’t quite so free-flowing. As a recent article in the Jamaica Gleaner reports, corporate giants in Jamaica, Red Stripe, pumped $100 million into the national football program, but implemented stipulations hinging on their success as a team.
“The new contract is expected to span a three-year period which should, in theory, take the team through to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, commonly referred to as the ‘Back to Africa Campaign’.
However, the national team must perform well if it expects to reap the benefits of the full sponsorship amount, as the funding will not go beyond whichever point the national team fails to advance.
Back in 2005, under a similar arrangement, the team managed to claim only $50 million of the total figure of the then ‘Red Stripe Journey to Germany’ deal as it was knocked out of CONCACAF Qualification in the semi-final round after placing third in Group I behind the United States and Panama.
‘Like most things in the business world, this is a performance-based arrangement. It was like that the last time and it is not a new thing, so here we are trying to qualify for another World Cup,’ said Jamaica Football Federation president Crenston Boxhill at the Chinese Benevolent Association yesterday. ”
In the article Boxhill shares his concern that performance-based corporate funding puts the organization under pressure. Indeed the Reggae Boyz did feel pressure when they failed to qualify for the World Cup this summer. On June 30, 2009, the Reggae Boyz received a $10 million boost from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), in order for them to participate in the Gold Cup (a less prestigious tournament held in the US).
“They needed the support because they are really strapped in terms of their programmes because they didn’t make it to the World Cup,” said Grange, minister of SDF. She added that because of the nonqualification, sponsorship was proving hard to get.
“If we did not step in and give the support, they would have had difficulties making it to the Gold Cup,” Grange said.
“We felt this is important and we have to give support to our national teams and we have to give support to the JFF because they need it in order to ensure that they continue to succeed on the international stage.”
I suppose I’ve been subject to a utopian philosophy for too long regarding dealing with the allotment of funding to sports teams, but I didn’t realize that performance-based funding was such a common practice for national teams. Is it ethical to demand success in exchange for funding? Isn’t funding crucial to success in the first place? Is the definition of success only limited to qualifying for the World Cup?
– Kelsey Ontko