FIFA to provide U$1.5m Covid-19 relief to ZIFA ZIFA House

Sikhumbuzo Moyo in BULAWAYO

ZIFA will next month receive their first tranche of the US$1,5 million Covid-19 relief fund from FIFA.

The US$1 million will be for the men’s game, including clubs and players, while the US$500 000 will be for women’s football.

The funds are part of the US$1,5 billion global relief fund which was approved by the FIFA Council during their virtual meeting on Thursday. Over and above the grant, member associations, will be able to apply for interest-free loans, amounting to up to 35 percent of their audited annual revenues.

And, in the spirit of solidarity, a minimum loan of US$500 000, and a maximum of US$5 million, will be available.

In order to ensure effective oversight of the plan, there will be strict controls of the funds, audit requirements as well as clear loan repayment conditions.

A FIFA Covid-19 relief plan steering committee will also be established to supervise the administration of the scheme.

The committee will be led by FIFA’s governance committee deputy chairperson, Olli Rehn.

In a circular to member associations, FIFA said the relief plan had been established in order to alleviate the financial distress caused by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The FIFA Council convened by video-conference today (Thursday) and made important decisions for the future of football, chief of which was the selection of Australia and New Zealand as hosts of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003,’’ FIFA said in a statement.

“The Council approved several measures with a view to responding to Covid-19 and helping football around the world in the face of the pandemic and its aftermath, namely:

The Council unanimously approved the FIFA Covid-19 Relief Plan, which was designed by the FIFA administration in close cooperation with representatives of the confederations. Across its three stages, this global support plan will make available up to US$ 1.5 billion to assist the football community.

In the first two stages of the plan, FIFA provided for the immediate release of all Forward operational-cost payments to member associations and, subsequently, for the opportunity to transform Forward development grants into COVID-19 operational relief funds — with a minimum of 50 percent of released funds to be allocated to women’s football .

In stage three, approved by the Council today, further financial support will be provided through a system of grants and loans:

Grants — a universal solidarity grant of USD 1 million will be made available to all member associations, and an additional grant of US$500,000 will be allocated specifically to women’s football. In addition, each confederation will receive a grant of US$2 million.

Loans — member associations will be able to apply for interest-free loans amounting to up to 35% of their audited annual revenues. In the interest of solidarity, a minimum loan of US$500,000 will be available and a maximum of US$5 million. In addition, each confederation will have access to a loan of up to US$4 million.

Both grants and loans can be directed by member associations to the wider football community in their respective territories, including clubs, players, leagues, or others that have been affected.

Governance model — to ensure effective oversight of the plan, there will be strict controls on the use of funds, audit requirements, as well as clear loan repayment conditions. A FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan steering committee will also be established to supervise the administration of the scheme.

Olli Rehn, the deputy chairman of the FIFA Governance Committee, has been appointed to lead this committee. He is also the Governor of the Bank of Finland, a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank and a former vice-president of the European Commission.

As a next step, the principles of the plan will be consolidated in a set of regulations to be put forward to the Bureau of the FIFA Council.”

The next Council meeting is scheduled for September, ahead of the 70th FIFA Congress, which will be held on September 18, 2020.

Both will be organised as virtual events held by video-conference.

“FIFA are financing the enormous relief fund by dipping into its reserves, with US$328 million covering grants and US$556 million to finance loans, Infantino said.

“Clubs and federations are in real danger. In some parts of the world, football has not restarted. We need to help them,” said Infantino.

The creation of the relief fund was announced by FIFA in March, when football across much of the globe was halted as the pandemic spread.

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