FIFA, football’s global governing body, has introduced its first step of a major relief plan by releasing operational funding to each of its member associations for 2019 and 2020 in an effort to assist football leagues and clubs at all levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a commitment that will see FIFA distribute $150m (€139m) to all 211 member national governing bodies, with each to receive a minimum of $500,000 to cover operational costs. All remaining entitlements during 2019 and 2020 will be paid in full immediately to help associations with their cashflow, including payments which usually would have depended on certain criteria being met under the Forward 2.0 development programme.
“[The funds should be] used to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on football, namely to meet financial or operational obligations that they may have towards staff and other third parties.” said FIFA in its statement.
They mentioned that any use of the funds would be audited to make sure they are spent properly, with FIFA keen to avoid the charges of corruption that have dogged the top levels of the sport in recent years.
The statement added that the release of the funds was possible given FIFA has been able to remain in a strong financial position for the last four years. The governing body has not released its financial results for 2019 yet, but in its statement for 2018 it revealed it was sitting on cash reserves of $2.74bn (€2.42bn) following the four-year cycle which linked up with the end of the most recent FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“The pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for the entire football community and, as the world governing body, it is Fifa’s duty to be there and support the ones that are facing acute needs,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.
“This starts by providing immediate financial assistance to our member associations, many of which are experiencing severe financial distress.”
The relief plan will provide some much needed funding to leagues around the world already losing out, with clubs under pressure financially without games being played.
Recently the Eredivisie made the tough decision to void the entire season meaning league leaders Ajax have been denied the title as well as there being no promotion and relegation in the Dutch top flight.
FIFA has confirmed that the next stages of its plan are still being finalised and will be announced in the coming weeks.