April 1 – FIFA is to set up an emergency fund to assist the football industry amid growing fears that the coronavirus crisis will bring the sport to its knees.
The pandemic has plunged football into unchartered territory with the majority of leagues around the world suspended. In Belarus, Nicaragua and Burundi, the ball keeps rolling, but there is little doubt that the outbreak of the coronavirus will create economic havoc in football.
The first signs of the game’s biggest crisis since World War II have been ominous. Barcelona and Juventus players have already accepted wage cuts as have Bundesliga clubs with premier League clubs likely to follow suit. In France, Canal+ and BeIN Sports are holding up the release of a scheduled €110 million payment in TV rights money. In Uruguay, the FA has furloughed its staff and in the Netherlands football will not return, on government orders, until June 1 at the earliest.
In response to the crisis, the world federation will draw from its financial reserves, which stood at $2.75 billion in 2019, to take on the game’s institutional crisis.
“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need,” said FIFA in a statement. “FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”
‘The football relief fund’ would be unique in sports, with no other major sports governing body drawing up similar plans at time of writing, and mirror the response by governments around the world to offer national economies a lifeline amid lockdowns. The move would need the approval of the FIFA Council. The criteria as to how the money would be distributed remains under discussion and so does the internal management of the fund.
“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak,” FIFA said. “This threatens to disrupt and impair the ability of FIFA’s member associations and other football organisations such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots.
“It is foreseen that in many parts of the world a considerable number of persons involved in football including both men and women players will be left in extremely difficult economic conditions.”
The world federation runs the ‘Forward Development Progam’ to redistribute FIFA’s vast wealth to it members associations. Under the program, FIFA pays $6 million dollars to each member association across a four-year programme.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1590572791labto1590572791ofdlr1590572791owedi1590572791sni@o1590572791fni1590572791