ASIAN Football Confederation (AFC) president and Fifa first vice-president Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa yesterday hailed the Asian football community amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
He extended the following message to AFC member associations:
In these unprecedented and challenging times, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) extends its wish that all members of the Asian football community remain safe and healthy.
Football will have an important role to play in the weeks and months ahead as the world returns to normality, but now our focus is firmly on protecting the well-being of all those who are involved in our great game.
Each of you, in varying degrees, have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and many of your Governments have taken swift and strong action to prevent its spread and limit its impact on your communities including partial lockdown or restricting moment.
Indeed, in Malaysia, the home of AFC House, the Government has, as you have been informed, imposed a Movement Control Order and, as a precaution, the AFC had starting 17 March 2020 imposed a two week “work from home” initiative to safeguard the staff and their families from further exposure and will be extended if necessary.
In the meantime, business continues as normal to serve the needs of all our Member and Regional Associations as well as our wide range of stakeholders. I have instructed the Administration to process all approved AFAP payments on an urgent basis to ensure salaries of staff and other contractual payments can be made without any delay.
As you know the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus has led to the AFC, with your agreement, postponing matches and events. The AFC thanks you for your continued support, advice and co-operation.
Again, these changes to our calendar were aimed at ensuring the safety and health of our members, their officials, their players, their staff and, of course, the millions of fans who engage with football in Asia each year.
Their health is, and always will be, our priority.
And that is why it is important that the AFC and all our Member and Regional Associations work with Governments and Health Agencies to curtail the threat of this virus and that everyone should take all precautions.
The AFC strongly urges all its Members to follow the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to exercise the highest levels of hygiene and are pleased to note that some members have also declared a “work from home” initiative.
The AFC has built its strong foundations on unity and solidarity – particularly in the face of adversity – during the last six years and this situation is another challenge which we will take on together to protect not only our communities but also the future of our game.
Of course, the AFC will take a strong lead and will, as always, be on hand to offer advice and assistance to any of our Member and Regional Associations in these uncertain times.
Please all remain safe and I look forward to the time when football can again play a significant role in bringing excitement and joy to people across Asia.