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2021 FIFA Club World Cup to move due to rescheduled Euro 2020

The inaugural 24-team FIFA Club World Cup originally for next year is set to move to accommodate the rescheduled UEFA 2020 European Championship and CONMEBOL 2020 Copa America national team competitions.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino arranged a conference call taking place on Wednesday where he will recommend that the global governing body’s Bureau of the Council accept the postponement of the two continental tournaments and move the expanded 2021 Club World Cup.

The expanded club tournament was meant to take place across eight cities in China from 17th June to 4th July next year in the calendar slot traditionally reserved for the FIFA Confederations Cup national team tournament.

However, UEFA and CONMEBOL, the respective continental confederations for Europe and South America, announced on Tuesday that their flagship national team tournaments would be postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, that created a clash with the 2021 Club World Cup.

FIFA will now wait until ‘there is more clarity on the situation’ to decide new dates for the Club World Cup, which Infantino said could take place later in 2021, in 2022 or even 2023.

Infantino, 49, also plans to arrange discussions with the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the national soccer body, and the Chinese government to ‘minimise any negative impact’ of a postponement.

In addition, FIFA will recommend that the ruling council make a AU$17.5 million to the World Health Organisation Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, while Infantino says the Zurich-based governing body will also discuss establishing a Global Football Assistance Fund to ‘help members of the football community affected by this crisis’.

‘The world is facing an unprecedented health challenge and clearly a global and collective response is needed,’ Infantino said in a statement.

‘Cooperation, mutual respect and understanding must be the guiding principles for all decision makers to have in mind at this crucial moment in time.

‘Particularly in football, finding appropriate and fair solutions at global level is imperative. This requires unity, solidarity and a shared sense of responsibility and we need to think of all those around the world potentially impacted by our decisions.

‘Finally, it goes without saying that FIFA will keep in regular contact with all members of the football community during this difficult period.

‘As I stated yesterday, challenging circumstances offer the opportunity for people to come together, show what they can do in a collective spirit, and emerge stronger and better prepared for the future. And this is what FIFA is aiming to do here.’

Infantino’s plans to push ahead with an expanded Club World Cup have previously created tension between FIFA and UEFA given the threat the reimagined tournament could impact the value of the UEFA Champions League.

However, those differences appear to have been put to one side as the global soccer industry attempts to implement a unified response to the coronavirus outbreak.

UEFA’s decision to postpone Euro 2020, along with the Copa America due to begin on 12th June, was taken to free up more time for Europe’s domestic soccer leagues to complete their current seasons, the majority of which have now been put on hold.

The move could yet have implications for the UEFA 2021 Women’s European Championship, which is due to get underway on 7th July next year, four days before the new date for the final of the men’s competition.

UEFA is yet to confirm the fate of the tournament, although the governing body’s president Aleksander Čeferin told the Associated Press that postponing the tournament until 2022 is “one of the possibilities” and “one of the most likely to happen”.

“We are thinking of postponing this Women’s Euro as well and Under-21 championship as well,” he said.

“We will have to postpone both because I don’t think that we should cannibalise the women’s Euro with the men’s Euro just one month before.”

How should Australian football best use its COVID-19 postponement?

FFA head James Johnson revealed the worst keep secret in Australian football early Tuesday morning; announcing the immediate suspension of A-League play on the back of the continued threat of COVID-19 . With states and territories having moved decisively on border control and lock down procedures, Johnson referred to a continuation as having become practically impossible.

The W-League did manage to squeeze their season in before the announcement was made, with a grand final between Melbourne City and Sydney FC last Saturday. The Melbourne City women may well be the last football team in Australia to win a championship for some time.

Words such as unprecedented, unique and testing have been common place in language over the past few weeks and the seriousness of the pandemic escapes no one at this time. Public health and prude governance are the most important aspects of the current situation, hopefully, wise decisions and action lead to a flattening of the curve and a slow return to normality over the next few months.

With around 1.8 million Australians who would normally be engaged with the beautiful game at this time of year in isolation and forbidden to compete, it would be prudent for FFA to think about encouraging behaviours that will benefit domestic football when it does eventually return.

As a first port of call, FFA should interact with the federations and ensure that junior players are sent age and skill appropriate drills to complete whilst confined to their home address. Many children will have a backyard in which to complete the drills, whilst others may be limited to small spaces available in apartments or town houses.

Technical directors could construct short clips and illustrated diagrams and then email and/or text the content to players using the official register in each federation.

Many young people will be feeling anxious about COVID-19, thanks to certain sections of the media that do little to encourage calm and thoughtful behaviour. Providing content for kids to work individually on their football skills would be a nice way to add a dose of normality for what will be a very strange time in their lives.

Slightly older players could also be engaged by their clubs, with coaching staff and technical consultants producing content they feel individual players need to work on. Within a supportive and digital environment, coaches might be able to set goals and objectives for the group and could potentially instil a competitive and diligent commitment to the drills that is so often lacking in junior players.

Players at NPL will find great challenges in maintaining fitness levels during the hiatus, with many young players no doubt living in high density situations with partners and young children. At a professional level, the AFL and NRL have set about the task of outlining fitness programs for their players that are adaptable to both indoor and outdoor environments. No doubt, the A-League will be following suit as we speak.

Many of the AFL players spoken to appeared at a loss as to how they would maintain fitness and skill levels without the expensive and vast resources of the football club to which they below. For NPL players it will be even more difficult, with the now closed local gyms the most common place for them to develop and maintain physical condition.

All NPL clubs need to establish a digital forum that includes the players, support staff and coaches in order to be pro-active during what appears likely to be an extended period away from the game. Once again, that sense of collegiality would be emotionally beneficial and with performance targets in place, the incentive to work collectively could potentially avoid any apathy that may occur in isolation.

The successful E-League concept should be immediately expanded with A and W League players engaged in play. A handful of players from each club with some X-BOX or PlayStation experience could be enlisted to play brief matches live on line, with the games streamed for fans to view via the club’s Facebook pages and the official A-League site.

The banter and enjoyment provided by what would no doubt be a comical yet also potentially competitive competition would further engage young fans and continue the objective of keeping the football community connected at this difficult time.

NPL New South Wales’ Facebook page is leading the way with lateral and creative thinking, already posting classic NPL matches for fans to view. The newly launched NPL.TV offers further potential in terms of streamed content and interaction and the National Premier Leagues’ #PlayAtHomeChallenge is a fun initiative that many players will be drawn to.

There is an emotional component to what all professional sport is about to encounter in Australia and monitoring and measuring that will prove difficult. The mind is fundamentally more important than the body and ensuring our football communities remain connected, active and positive is vitally important as most of us enter a period of isolation thanks to COVID-19.

Brisbane City Council waives lease fees for football clubs

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has announced Brisbane City Council will waive all charges, rents, levies and permit fees for all businesses as they face economic problems caused by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Lease fees for community organisations will also be waived, which includes grassroots football clubs.

In the next three months, fees and charges will be waived for businesses and lessees as part of the $7.9 million business relief package.

“This is about protecting jobs and community organisations, not just the livelihood of business owners,” Cr Schrinner said.

“We will reassess the policy once we know the true impacts on the Brisbane economy and workforce after 30 June. Also, anyone who has just paid any one of the fees since 1 March will be given special dispensation.”

FIFA opens World Cup video archive during COVID-19

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has opened up a men’s and women’s World Cup video archive featuring full matches due to the mass suspension of domestic and international games caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The aim is to bring football home with people able to have their say upon the release of a new video archive that will help get people through this unfolding crisis.

The #WorldCupAtHome campaign will see more than 30 past matches made available and premiered from 21st March via FIFA’s official website and YouTube channel, as well as its Weibo channel in China.

The soccer body have based the campaign around allowing fans to vote on games they want to see via social media. Additional engagement opportunities will also allow viewers to interact with live chat on YouTube and vote for a favourite moment of the match.

FIFA will additionally make available a catalogue of its in-house documentary features and interviews with some of soccer’s biggest names.

Due to the isolation process that people will continue to experience likely being over the next few months, the archive is designed to be an immersive experience that gives fans the chance to relive their favourite and most memorable moments and gaining the best experience possible from their homes.

FIFA has already seen its opening votes, with Spain vs Netherlands edging Brazil vs Colombia and Germany vs Argentina in a 2014 World Cup vote, while in the France 2019 Women’s World Cup poll, the semi-final between England and USA prevailed over France vs USA.

As fans all around the world are craving something to enjoy in these unprecedented times, FIFA has put their foot forward to unite fans in a time of uncertainty – providing us with this access to games in tricky times for us all.

This voting process will take place over the next six weeks, helping fill a void left by the growing number of competitions to suspend their seasons.

Until regular football activities are resumed, we’ll be able to take the time to reflect on past achievements and milestones all around the world and celebrate the game that is.

© 2019 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved.

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