COVID-19 to cost football $14bn this year: FIFA

ZURICH: World football's governing body FIFA estimates that the negative impact of the disruption wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to be around $14 billion.    

“The estimated impact of the disruption was around $14 billion,” Olli Rehn, who chairs the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan Steering Committee and who acts as FIFA Governance Committee deputy chairman, has stated. 

Rehn said that the baseline assumption in broad terms was that roughly one-third of the football economy, worth roughly $40-45 billion a year, had been affected by the COVID-19 crisis to date.

Explaining more about the relief plan, Rehn outlined how grants and loans are already being put to good use and confirmed that it was achieving the right impact.

Rehn said that football in South America had been especially hard hit, while Africa and Asia were also a concern.

"It is a real danger that the good work that has been done developing football in Asia and Africa could be ruined, so we want to soften the blow and maintain the development that has been done," he said. FIFA has allocated $1.5 billion to help tackle the effects of the pandemic and Rehn said 150 of the 211 member associations had so far applied for funds.

“FIFA reacted rapidly, with the philosophy of ‘health first’, and in mid-March FIFA president Gianni Infantino met with the secretary-general of the World Health Organization to discuss how football could help to tackle (problems arising from this) pandemic,” Rehn pointed out. “Our internal discussions began soon afterwards on how to set up a FIFA COVID relief fund by using FIFA’s financial reserves to help member associations, clubs, players, staff and youth academies.”