FIFA have claimed that the cost of the coronavirus pandemic could be worth up to US$14.4 billion globally, with further disruption causing an unknown future for the Club World Cup.
The colossal figure has been based on the current situation that football around the word finds itself in, according to Olli Rehn, chair of the FIFA Covid-19 relief plan, with domestic and international competitions returning to action after coming to a sudden halt earlier in the year.
Rehn told Reuters: “Football has been hit very hard by the coronavirus pandemic. It has created plenty of turmoil at different levels with some professional clubs facing very serious difficulties. I’m also very concerned about youth academies and lower division clubs.”
Domestic football across the world generates anywhere from $40 billion to $45 billion a year, concluding that the cost of the pandemic may have larger implications on the sport having lost over a third of the expected income already.
In June, FIFA provided a $1.5 billion relief fund to support the national federations and confederations after the losses suffered due to the pandemic. Rehn confirmed that 150 of the 211 member associations have applied to gain access to the emergency fund.
With the number of associations showing interest in the fund, Rehn stated that it would not be able to assist those that needed help alone.
“It’s a huge number and it covers the football economy in its entirety,” said Rehn. “It cannot be an exact figure, but it is an estimate of losses in 211 member associations.”
“The loss under any scenario was too great for FIFA to mitigate alone. We are working very intensively with confederations to improve the situation.”
Despite football seemingly beginning the process of returning back to normal, the uncertain future that the Covid-19 pandemic holds could mean further disruption to the game across the world, something that Rehn is hopeful should not occur.
“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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Gianni Infantino, the president of the global governing body, has cast doubt over whether the FIFA Club World Cup competition can go ahead, which had been set to take place in December, hosted by Qatar, in preparation for the state to hold the World Cup in 2022.
Infantino said: “When it comes to the current Club World Cup of 2020, well since many confederations or some confederations will probably not conclude their Champions Leagues until December, it is unlikely that this event will take place in December of this year as was originally planned.
“But we are discussing, we are monitoring, we are seeing if it can be hosted in Qatar maybe at the beginning of the year.
“We certainly want to see if we can keep it, we will do that consulting all the confederations and all the participating clubs and take the best decision for football.”
Author: Jake Wilkin