“FIFA is in a strong financial situation, and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need," the international football governing body said in a statement to the Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday.
“FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football,” the statement added.
According to AP, FIFA staff across the world have been furloughed, and many players have taken pay cuts as the pandemic has placed life on hold. For instance, London’s Tottenham Hotspur Football Club announced on Tuesday that 550 non-playing staff could have their salaries decreased by 20% over the next two months amid the pandemic.
Two weeks ago, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his vice presidents began discussing a “support fund” to help the “most vulnerable in smaller soccer markets,” AP reported.
“There is an urgency difference ... we need to safeguard the weakest links in this pyramid,” FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann told AP. FIFPro, which stands for Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels, is a union that represents 65,000 professional footballers worldwide.
“We will see very many individuals whose livelihoods depend on these smaller clubs. ... Once clubs are gone, we won’t get them back,” Baer-Hoffmann added.
Even Futbol Club Barcelona, one of the most valuable sports organizations in the world, has cut the salaries of players such Lionel Messi by 70% to save $17 million a month.
“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak,” FIFA said. “This threatens to disrupt and impair the ability of FIFA’s member associations and other football organizations such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots.”