World football governing body FIFA announced on Thursday it had agreed on a 1.5 billion dollars relief plan to help deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global game.
FIFA’s plan means world football’s governing body will dip into its reserves to provide national federations with a number of grants and interest-free loans to cope with budget hits. FIFA had already provided the immediate release of all funds from its “Forward’’ projects and given the green light for such grants to be used for COVID-19 relief plans.
A minimum of 50 percent of released funds are to be allocated to women’s football. The third stage of the plans, unanimously backed by the FIFA Council on Thursday, allows for a “universal solidarity grant’’ of one million dollars to all national associations.
An additional 500,000 dollars is to be released specifically for women’s football and each regional confederation will receive a grant of two million dollars.
Football Associations (FAs) will be able to apply for loans, amounting to up to 35 percent of their audited annual revenues up to a maximum of five million dollars, while confederations will be able to request up to four million dollars.
“Both grants and loans can be directed by member-associations to the wider football community in their respective territories, including clubs, players, leagues, or others that have been affected by COVID-19,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said, adding that there would be strict controls on the use of funds, audit requirements, as well as clear loan repayment conditions.
Olli Rehn, the deputy chairman of the FIFA Governance Committee, will head a committee set up to administer the funds. Rehn is Governor of the Bank of Finland and a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, which backed changes to the calendar to support confederations’ desires to extend international breaks to allow for fixture congestion and rearranged matches.
Infantino said no decision has yet to be taken on the rescheduling of the new Club World Cup tournament which has been postponed from July 2021 due to the postponement of Euro 2020 and the Copa America.
The council also gave the green light to a new pan-Arab tournament to be played in 2021 in Qatar as a “test event’’ for the 2022 World Cup for which an invitational competition will be contested by Arab nations from Africa, Asia and feature home-based players only. The tournament will be held from Dec. 1 to Dec. 18 in 2021 and be run by Qatar’s World Cup Organising Committee.