The current financial crisis is also affecting the entire football industry, including youth academies. According to a calculation by the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the coronavirus is expected to cost the global football industry about 11 billion US dollars, approximately 9.3 billion euros. More than 150 football associations have therefore already requested financial assistance from the World Football Association, which has led to an emergency fund of 1.5 billion euros.
The same way governmental institutes and branch organisations are trying to offer financial help to as many industries as possible, the football branch is also reached out to by the FIFA. The problem here is that the impact of the corona pandemic will not have disappeared in the next few years, consequently meaning that the emergency fund is not subject to any time limitations to pay off the loans. National Football Associations can also apply for loans, announces Olli Rehn, chairman of the FIFA’s steering group on the coronavirus. And this has been massively done, although different associations have shown different purposes.
A global problem
According to Rehn, football has been hit especially in Europe in terms of absolute costs. Many clubs in South America have had a hard time as well, mainly due to the fact that competitions in the continent run from spring to autumn, exactly when the coronavirus hit world football. Rehn emphasises that the money made available by FIFA must be used for the right purposes only. “There is no place for corruption in football”. “Good governance is at the heart of this Covid-19 fund”, he adds.” We have made this very clear to all affiliated associations. Nonetheless, some of those associations have already complained about the heavy compliance procedures, but we need to be strict, while we’re also kind of used to complaining associations by now” Rehn jokes.
Different associations, different purposes
“We, therefore, demand full compliance and we have partnered with world-renowned accounting firms.” The chairman of the steering group has also given some specific examples of how the emergency fund is already being used by local associations. In Thailand, funds are used to restart the national competition, including CPR corona tests, as well as the implementation of the video referee (VAR), while Mexico decided to spend its 1.5 million US dollars to its national women’s league. Uruguay has used the FIFA funds to avoid massive layoffs in the Uruguayan Football Association.
The vaccine is football’s only saviour
Some of these examples might lead to questions among football fans as the implementation of the VAR is not necessarily corona related. Restarting the national football league and frequently testing players for corona definitely is and has been one of the main reasons football hasn’t faced a second lockdown (yet). In most of Europe and South America, football games are still played, despite the second wave of (intelligent) lockdowns across the globe. But in order to really survive the crisis, football needs a vaccine just as much as the world.