FIFA estimates football around the world will lose almost £11billion in revenue
By Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
Football around the world will lose out on almost £11billion in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic, world governing body FIFA estimates.
It puts the value of the club and national team game in 2020 at 46bn US dollars (£35.6bn) before international club football such as the Champions League is taken into account, and believes 14bn US dollars of that will be lost because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Olli Rehn, the man who heads the steering committee for FIFA’s 1.5bn dollar Covid relief fund, set out the impact of coronavirus to the game on Wednesday morning.
“It’s a huge number and it covers the football economy in its entirety, including all youth academies,” he said.
“This will impact next year as well, there is a carry over. That is why this Covid-19 relief fund is not time-bound – they may request loans later on if they need to.
“If you look at the breakdown of the impact, clubs and member associations in Europe were most impacted in absolute terms, but relatively those outside of Europe have suffered more, in particular in South America, many on account of their relative means and the spring to autumn season.”
The relief plan allows national associations and regional confederations to apply for grants and interest-free loans.
Each national association can apply for a grant of one million US dollars (almost £750,000) plus a further 500,000 US dollars ring-fenced for women’s football.
Confederations can apply for a grant of two million US dollars.
Loans are available to national associations up to a maximum value of five million US dollars, while confederations can apply for loans up to four million US dollars.
FIFA has encountered many issues in its past with funds being misused, but Rehn is confident the auditing processes being implemented will detect any corruption.
“Good governance is at the heart of this Covid-19 relief fund,” he said.
“We have made this clear to member associations. I know some member associations have complained about heavy compliance procedures – I’m quite used to that. We do require full compliance and we have been working with globally-known auditing companies.
“Corruption has no room in football. It’s essential that the money is being used for the right purposes.”
He gave some examples of how the relief fund is already being put into action.
In Thailand it has been used to help restart the national league competition, including coronavirus testing, but also to implement video assistant referee (VAR) technology.
Mexico spent its full grant of 1.5m US dollars on its national women’s league, and in Brazil the funds are supporting the testing programme in the women’s competition.
In Uruguay, the money has helped the federation rehire staff it had been forced to lay off, who were crucial to its effective operation.