FIFA Will Boost 2006 World Cup Prize Money to $281 Million

LAUSANNE Switzerland April 26 (Reuters) - FIFA is to sharply increase total prize money at next year's World Cup finals to 332 million Swiss francs ($281.1 million).

Football's world governing body announced the 38 percent rise at its annual financial media conference on Tuesday.

The organisation said it had made the decision after seeing its liquid assets rise to 439 million Swiss francs.

FIFA posted annual profits for 2004 of 158 million Swiss francs an increase of 12 percent compared to 2003.

'We have taken another significant stride towards our goal of having equity of between 350 and 450 million Swiss francs by the end of 2006' said FIFA President Sepp Blatter in a statement.

'That equity together with the results we have already posted from marketing will further strengthen FIFA's solid financial foundations.'

FIFA has made a priority of increasing its liquid assets since being stunned by the financial failure of its marketing and TV rights partners ISL and Kirch in 2001 and 2002.

'That was a noisy and unnecessary chapter in FIFA's history but now we are looking forward with great great optimism' said Blatter.

'We have learnt our lessons from the events of 2001 and 2002.'