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For Players, FIFA's COVID-19 Coping Strategy Includes... Esports

13 May, 2020

By: Michael Popke

FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, has issued three “immediate priorities” for the sport and its players in the wake of the coronavirus.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, in a video message to the 211 FIFA member associations and members of the FIFA Council, stated April 10 that those priorities are the health of individuals, funding clubs in time of crisis and a plan for the future — in that order.

“Our first priority, our principle, the one we will use for our competitions and encourage everyone to follow is that health comes first,” Infantino said. “I cannot stress this enough. No match, no competition, no league is worth risking a single human life. Everyone in the world should have this very clear in their mind. It would be more than irresponsible to force competitions to resume if things are not 100 percent safe. If we have to wait a little longer, we must do so. It’s better to wait a little bit longer than to take any risks.”

He also emphasized that FIFA’s “strong financial situation” will aid in an emergency relief fund.

“FIFA enjoys a good reputation on the financial markets,” Infantino said. “This has helped us consolidate a solid foundation with large reserves. But our reserves are not FIFA’s money. It is football’s money. So when football is in need, we must think what we can do to help … It is our responsibility and our duty.”

He also stated that a consultation process is underway to assess the financial impact across the sport in order to prepare the right response based around a fund with an independent governance structure.

Although traditional consultation processes have been halted due to the travel restrictions that have been imposed in relation to the coronavirus, Infantino requested member associations “to work with the technology available to engage more, to talk about the common challenges that lie ahead and to think about the future.”

For the official statement from FIFA, click here.

As ESPN.com reported, “the pandemic has decimated the world football calendar, with all of Europe’s major leagues on hold. Football in England, Spain, France and Germany has been postponed indefinitely, while the Italian Serie A [was] suspended," with a defnitive announcement to be made later.

Meanwhile, many soccer players from powerhouse European teams such as Ajax, AS Roma, Chelsea, FC Copenhagen, Liverpool, Porto and Real Madrid were scheduled to compete in EA Sports’ “FIFA 20 Stay and Play Cup” in mid-April. Organizers of the online gaming event planned to donate $1 million to Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“We want to bring the global football community together … so millions of fans can experience the thrill of their favorite clubs and professional footballers playing — even when we have to be apart,” Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson said in a statement.

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