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As the soccer World Cup kicks off in Sao Paolo, billions of dollars are riding on the success of the event. But it's not just the sponsors that have splashed the cash on the tournament; according to underwriter Beazley, insurers have around $5 billion riding on the event.

That's because the scale of the event – with an estimated 600,000 visitors due to descend on Brazil and teams from 31 countries playing 64 matches across the country – means that there's plenty that could go wrong.

Many potential disasters - like terrorism or kidnap - sound extreme. But if they do happen, they are seriously costly.

"If such an event were realized, the cost would be enormous," stressed Ralph Koijen, professor of finance at London Business School. "That's why those potentially affected will take out insurance."

Insuring against a whole range of possible events at major sporting events is big business, according to Robert Boland, professor of sports management at New York University.

"It's particularly important at this World Cup, because the most important outcome for Brazil is actually reputational," he told CNBC. "It's possibly most at risk if anything goes wrong, but Brazil also has a lot to gain."

So what might go wrong at this year's World Cup? Using its experience of providing insurance for large sporting events, Beazley outlines the biggest risks – and how much they are likely to be insured for.

—By CNBC's Katrina Bishop

Cristophe Simon | AFP | Getty Images