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COVID-19 TO COST FOOTBALL E228 BILLION - FIFA

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MBABANE – FIFA yesterday put the cost of Covid-19 on football around the world at E228 billion in lost revenue.
The pandemic has already led to over 150 football associations seeking financial help from the E24 billion emergency relief fund set up by football’s governing body. Noteworthy is that a majority of online publications had ran the story of FIFA’s estimated loss yesterday.


Olli Rehn, Chairman of FIFA’s coronavirus steering committee, laid bare for the first time the true financial impact the virus has had on the game through fixture list chaos, empty stadiums and loss of TV rights revenue.
“It’s a huge number and it covers the football economy in its entirety, including all youth academies,” Rehn, a Finnish politician and governor of the Bank of Finland, told a press conference.


impact


“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,” Rehn, who is also the independent deputy chairman of the FIFA Governance Committee, said.
He said that while Europe was hit hardest in terms of absolute cost, it was the associations outside Europe which ‘have suffered more’.
Rehn said that football in South America had been especially hard hit, while Africa and Asia were also a concern.


ruined


“It is a real danger that the good work that has been done developing football in Asia and Africa could be ruined, so we want to soften the blow and maintain the development that has been done,” he said.
“In particular in South America, many on account of their relative means and the spring to autumn season,” he said. Last month European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli predicted lost revenue of E77 billion over two years for its member clubs.”


“Each national association can request a FIFA grant of E16 million (E32 million for confederations) plus E8 million for women’s football. Loans are available to national associations up to a maximum value of E81 million (E65 million for confederations). Rehn was at pains to stress that unlike in the past it was imperative the money made available by FIFA is used for the right purposes.


Corruption


“Corruption has no room in football,” he stated.
“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,” he said.


He said that, while football was slowly re-awakening, another downturn could not be ruled out.
“The critical thing will be whether a vaccine will be developed and can be used, and that we have medical and other means to fully contain and tame the pandemic, and that is uncertain,” he said.


severe


“We cannot rule out worse developments and that would be another ball game if the pandemic were to continue in a severe form next year. Now we are working on the basis of the current scenario.”
Effort to get comments from Eswatini Football Association (EFA) were futile as the Marketing and Communications Officer, Muzi Radebe, directed all questions to the EFA CEO Frederick Mngomezulu.
When called, the CEO did not answer his mobile phone yesterday.
In a previous interview, the EFA CEO had indicated that they would make applications to the relief funds offered by FIFA.

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