ZURICH. – FIFA is looking to dip into its vast financial reserves to help a football industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic wiping out the games and creating unexpected economic hardship in the world’s biggest sport.
The spread of COVID-19 has impacted wealthier clubs, with Barcelona and Juventus players taking pay cuts; those of the small countries, with the Slovak champion Zilina in bankruptcy; and national football federations, with Uruguay laying off hundreds of staff.
Having amassed reserves it last reported to have reached $2.745 billion, FIFA has the resources to provide much-needed financial aid to the game on many levels.
“FIFA is in a solid financial position and it is our duty to do all we can to help when needed,” world football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after having carried out a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”
FIFA is exploring the mechanism to provide the financial lifeline to the football industry with the six regional confederations and member associations to ensure there will be an announcement “in the near future”.
“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems due to the coronavirus outbreak,” FIFA said.
“This threatens to disrupt and impede the ability of FIFA Member Associations and other football organizations such as leagues and clubs to develop, fund and manage football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots football.
“It is expected that in many parts of the world, a considerable number of people involved in football, men and women, will find themselves in extremely difficult economic conditions.”
FIFA already runs a “Forward” development program to redistribute its wealth to member associations.
During the 2015-18 cycle, investments in the scheme were $1,079 billion, of which $832 million was approved and committed to member associations, confederations or regions, according to the latest published financial results. —AP.