The coronavirus disease brought the world to a virtual standstill in early 2020. No aspect of life was unaffected, and the devastating effects were a clear reminder that nothing – not even football – is more important than health.
On 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The next morning, FIFA President Gianni Infantino met with WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the WHO headquarters to discuss how football could help the global response and what measures sports governing bodies could take.
Building on their existing collaboration to promote healthy lifestyles through football globally, the WHO and FIFA launched a joint awareness-raising campaign and engaged in various initiatives to protect and promote the health of individuals and their communities.
Passing on the message
Led by 38 FIFA Legends and current stars, “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” promoted five key steps for people to protect their health in line with WHO guidance. The joint FIFA-WHO video campaign was published in 16 languages and viewed millions of times around the world.
“FIFA has stood up to the coronavirus, and I am delighted that world football is supporting WHO to kick out the coronavirus. I have no doubt that, with this type of support, together we will win.”
Rivals unite to promote fitness
Teaming up with the WHO and the United Nations (UN) for the UN International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on 6 April, FIFA enlisted stars of rival clubs to record unified video statements – posted on FIFA, UN and WHO social media accounts under the hashtag #BeActive – telling fans how they could stay fit and active during lockdown.
Legends lead applause for frontline heroes
These is no doubt that health workers and other key professionals were the real stars of 2020, continuing to work and make sacrifices for others despite the worsening pandemic. In April, 50 of football’s biggest stars showed support by applauding their efforts in a social media clip that paid tribute to “humanity’s heroes” helping to keep the rest of society running.
Sharing a message of domestic peace
As part of a wider global initiative to support women and children who were victims of domestic violence as stay-at-home measures put them at greater risk, FIFA joined forces with the African Union, the European Commission and WHO to launch the #SafeHome campaign in Africa and Europe. African and European football stars supported the campaign via video messages distributed on social and traditional media to raise awareness of this critical issue, and multimedia toolkits helped FIFA’s member associations to further amplify the message worldwide.
Unrivalled reach: FIFA‑WHO COVID‑19 campaigns
During an unprecedented time of global isolation, FIFA opened up its digital archive with the #WorldCupAtHome campaign.
Nine weeks of full-match re-broadcasts, documentary premieres and wider engagement on social media saw millions of fans flock to FIFA’s platforms to relive some of their favourite footballing memories.
A total of 32 classic matches were re-broadcast from past editions of the FIFA World Cup™, FIFA Women’s World Cup™ and other FIFA tournaments, along with the official films of the 2014 and 2018 World Cups and 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Each match was voted for by the fans on social media and, over the nine weeks, #WorldCupAtHome garnered over half a billion impressions across platforms, captivating 300 million fans in 126 countries and going on to win the Content Creation Award at the Leaders Sports Awards.