MANCHESTER: Fifa is urging all football associations to publicise the World Health Organisation’s preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus, Gianni Infantino, president of world soccer’s governing body, said in a letter to its members yesterday.
Ahead of today’s meeting of European soccer’s governing body Uefa, which will see calls for this year’s European Championship to be postponed, Infantino also called for unity in dealing with the impact of the pandemic on the game.
The Fifa chief said his organisation will use its social media and other channels to help popularise WHO advice about hand-washing, avoiding close contact and staying at home when showing symptoms of the virus.
In the letter, Infantino urged football associations and others in the game to follow suit.
“In partnership with the WHO, we are launching awareness building initiatives designed to provide practical recommendations and steps to tackle the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
“I highly recommend you to also at your level use the power of football to send out and spread these key messages.”
The Fifa president said the game had a responsibility to keep those involved in football as healthy as possible.
“Under these circumstances, we must now do everything in our power to protect fans, players, coaches, and everyone else involved in our beautiful game. Most importantly, the football authorities must take all necessary measures to prevent the virus spreading to the wider community,” he said.
Most football leagues in Europe and many around the world have suspended play due to the spread of the virus and European governing body Uefa are meeting today to discuss a possible postponement of Euro 2020.
Should the pan-continental Euros be moved to 2021 it could come into conflict with Fifa’s plans for an expanded Club World Cup in that timeslot involving the world’s leading club sides.
There is widespread uncertainty about how to finish domestic and international seasons and many clubs, leagues and federations are certain to face short-term losses in revenue.
But Infantino said it was vital the game stayed together in dealing with the problems.
“Thus far, the world football community has shown a sense of solidarity and unity in the face of this threat and we should continue to do the same when thinking about how we will address the consequences we will have to face for the future of our game, once this serious risk to human health is behind us,” said Infantino.
“Fifa will keep in regular contact with all relevant stakeholders during this difficult period and look to find in due course solutions in a spirit of cooperation, taking into account the interests of football at all levels.”
Earlier, Fifa said that it was looking into the potential impact postponed fixtures would have on player contracts.
The big five leagues in Europe – in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France – have all been suspended, as have the Champions League and Europa League, adding to a potential fixture pile-up should the competitions resume later this year.
However, many players whose deals run until the end of the season will be out of contract after June 30, raising questions over how the ongoing league season can be completed with the current squads.
“Fifa is analysing the current situation and the potential impact it may have on all areas of football. More information will follow in due course,” a Fifa spokesperson told Reuters.
Teams such as Chelsea, who are chasing Champions League qualification, could be affected with front line players Olivier Giroud, Pedro and Willian all on contracts expiring on June 30.
The off-season transfer window is also set to open when the season ends, casting doubt over whether players will be allowed to move on before the current season reaches a conclusion.
The 24-team Euro 2020 tournament, scheduled to be held in 12 countries from June 12 to July 12, could also be pushed back a year which would create a longer window for national leagues to finish their seasons.