Football will be totally different after coronavirus: FIFA chief

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ROME Gianni Infantino, head of the global soccer body – FIFA – has said that football will be totally different when it eventually resumes after the coronavirus pandemic. He further said, “There is one lesson, however, that both you and me must have understood: the football that will come after the virus will be totally different, more inclusive, more social and more supportive, connected to the individual countries and at the same time more global, less arrogant and more welcoming.” Last week, Infantino told Gazzetta dello Sport that it was the right time to take a step back and reform a sport where fixture lists have become overloaded and financial resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few elite clubs. He suggested there could be “fewer, but more interesting tournaments. Maybe fewer squads, but more balance. Fewer, but more competitive, matches to safeguard the health of the players.” Infantino told the annual congress of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) that “it is our responsibility as football administrators, first of all to ensure football can survive and secondly move forward once again.” FIFA are working on the details of a “FootballMarshall plan” to deal with the financial fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic, which will almost certainly result in them dipping into their $2.7 billion reserves. World football’s governing body have set up a working group to look into the myriad of issues thrown up by the halting of the game across the globe as a result of the pandemic and this week they are expected to focus on ways in which they can help give a cash boost to those struggling. A spokesperson for FIFA told Reuters that they were aware that there were “serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak.” “This threatens to disrupt andimpairthe ability of FIFAs member associations and other football organisations such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots. “It is foreseen that in many parts of the world a considerable number of persons involved in football including both men and women players will be left in extremely difficult economic conditions.” The spokesperson added that due to FIFA’s strong financial situation, the body has a duty to help those in need. The exact format and details of this assistance have yet to be decided but this week will see further consultations with FIFA’s member associations, the continental confederations and other stakeholders. The spokesperson said that while a number of issues about how to distribute resources and implement on the plan remain to be resolved, they aim to have a scheme “agreed and announced in the near future.” FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s 2016 election campaign included plans to distribute the organisation’s resources. At the time he declared: “The money of FIFA is your money, it’s not the money of the FIFA president.” Most domestic and international football competitions around the world have been suspended due to the pandemic and continental team tournaments such as Euro 2020 and the Copa America have been postponed.—AFP