20 March 2015
The salary that FIFA pays Sepp Blatter, its long-serving president, has never been disclosed. We know how much US president Barack Obama makes, $400,000, and the head of the United Nations (about $240,000) and even the CEO of the biggest company in Switzerland (Nestle, $10.6 million). But Blatter’s salary is a mystery.
Today FIFA released its 2014 financials, which allows for an informed, forensic estimate of Blatter’s FIFA salary. I took a look at this question in 2013 (here and here), and the new information allows for an update and provides a few more clues.
In 2014, from a total salaries bill of $88.6m, FIFA says it paid out $39.7 million to what it calls “key management personnel” for “short-term employee benefits” (not including pension contributions). This category of personnel includes 13 members of FIFA’s management (most named in FIFA management graphic, right) along with payments made to members of its executive and finance committees.
We don’t know how much these committee members are paid, but in 2011 Mohammed bin Hammam revealed that he was compensated 200,000 Euros for his ExCo service. Sunil Gulati, a US representative on the FIFA Executive Committee, has still has yet to make good on his promise to reveal his FIFA compensation.
Using Bin Hammam’s compensation as a starting point, conservatively, as a rough estimate that suggests about $6 million of the $39.7 million in “key management personnel” compensation was devoted to remuneration for committee service. That leaves $33.7 million to be allocated among 13 individuals. This total represents an increase of almost $12 million since 2009 and $6 million since 2012. Good work if you can get it.
The 2014 compensation for “key management personnel” represents an average of about $2.6 million per person. If Sepp Blatter’s salary is 2-3 times the average, a very reasonable assumption, then it is about $5m-$8m.
In 2013 I guesstimated that Blatter’s salary likely falls in a range between the average of the key personnel and six times that average. For 2014 that would be in a range of $3 million to $16 million.
This is much higher than a figure Blatter suggested to the BBC back in 2011, when he said that his salary was just over $1 million. I have a hard time squaring that claim with the evidence, though perhaps Blatter has seen some considerable raises in the past five years.
In 2013 Walter DiGregorio, FIFA’s spokesman and a member of “key management personnel” stated at the Play the Game conference (during a panel that I was on) that his salary was just a bit higher than the £168,000 (about $250,000) he had earned in his previous job. If true, this supports a higher salary for Blatter, as around $33.45 million would then be spread across 12 people.
The 2014 FIFA financial report provides another clue. It states that FIFA’s executive salaries fall within the range of salaries for Swiss businesses, as surveyed by Ethos (reported here in French). For 2012, Ethos reports that the top 20 highest paid CEOs in Switzerland received in compensation between about $6 million and $16 million (converted to dollars from Swiss francs using today’s exchange rate). This is remarkably close to the estimate that I suggested.
The mid-point of this range is $11 million. But let’s be conservative. The bottom of this range is $6 million. That’s my guess for Sepp Blatter’s 2014 salary, and if pressed I’ll take the over!
FIFA can prove me right or wrong simply by disclosing the real number.
Roger Pielke Jr. is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, where he also directs its Center for Science and technology Policy Research. He studies, teaches and writes about science, innovation, politics and sports. He has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, FiveThirtyEight, and The Wall Street Journal among many other places. He is thrilled to join Sportingintelligence as a regular contributor. Follow Roger on Twitter: @RogerPielkeJR and on his blog