Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, FIFA has continuously stressed the need to put health first. Safeguarding the public and ensuring the well-being of players, officials – indeed, everyone involved in football – is of primary importance.
The resultant suspension of all football activity in almost every country led to enormous financial distress for each member association (MA) and its respective football infrastructure. FIFA quickly recognised the need and obligation to implement a COVID-19 relief plan aimed at alleviating this distress and ensuring the provision of financial support to assist with football’s resumption as well as protect the future welfare of the game across the globe.
FIFA’s very strong financial position enabled a substantial financial relief plan to be put in place, amounting to USD 1,500 million. A measured approach was adopted, with the aim of establishing an effective and meaningful plan capable of offering support to the whole football community across all 211 MAs. Extensive analysis and consultations took place, along with careful consideration with regard to establishing an appropriate governance and operational structure for the plan.
This work resulted in the implementation of the following three-stage approach:
Stage 1 – provision of immediate liquidity relief to MAs
The most urgent priority established was the need for an instant injection of liquidity to assist MAs in the immediate short term. As a result, in April 2020, the Development Committee and Finance Committee approved the immediate release of remaining 2019 and 2020 Forward 2.0 operational-cost entitlements to MAs under the FIFA Forward Programme. The subsequent use of these funds by MAs will be fully audited as per the FIFA Forward Regulations.
Stage 2 – provision of additional support to MAs
In addition to the release of operational-cost entitlements, it was decided that MAs should be given the opportunity to transform their remaining Forward project funds into “COVID-19 relief funds”. These options were approved by the Development Committee and Finance Committee in May 2020. The existing Forward 2.0 regulatory framework continues to apply and MAs are required to inform FIFA of how the funds will be used in response to COVID-19 issues. The subsequent use of the funds by MAs will be fully audited as per the FIFA Forward Regulations.
Stage 3 – support for MAs and the wider football community
The third aspect of the relief plan was designed so as to provide MAs and confederations with additional financial support to help protect football from the adverse economic effects of COVID-19 in their individual countries and regions.
Since each MA and confederation has different needs, a grant-and-loan system was established to allow the tailored use of funds available under stage 3 of the relief plan. Each MA will be given the opportunity to illustrate where the funds are used to ensure the continuous development of football in all its forms (including futsal and beach soccer) – from grassroots to elite level, for girls and boys, women and men – as well as to maintain their governance, management and administration systems.
Under stage 3, a universal solidarity grant of USD 1 million was made available to each MA to protect football and enable its resumption, and an additional grant of USD 0.5 million per MA was allocated specifically for women’s football. In addition, each confederation was entitled to receive a grant of USD 2 million. Furthermore, in the interests of solidarity, loans of between USD 0.5 million and USD 5 million were made available to MAs and confederations. MAs are able to apply for interest-free loans of up to 35% of their audited annual revenues. In addition, each confederation has access to a loan of up to USD 4 million. Both grants and loans can be distributed by MAs to the wider football community in their respective territories, including clubs, players, leagues, or others that have been affected.
In order to finance stage 3 of the relief plan and provide assistance to MAs, the confederations and other football stakeholders, an allocation of part of FIFA’s existing excess reserves was required.