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FIFA reveals US$1.5 billion Coronavirus relief fund and backs World Cup warm-up tournament in late 2021

FIFA reveals US$1.5 billion Coronavirus relief fund and backs World Cup warm-up tournament in late 2021
June 26, 2020

World football governing body FIFA has approved a COVID-19 relief plan that will make up to US$1.5 billion available to support the global football community while also announcing a partnership with the Qatar Football Association to deliver a pan-Arab tournament in the Gulf state in late 2021 as part of preparations for the 2022 World Cup.

Designed by the FIFA administration in close cooperation with representatives from continental confederations, details of the relief plan - first outlined in April - will see US$150 million in operational funding distributed to its member associations for 2019 and 2020, with each of the 211 national governing bodies receiving a minimum of US$500,000.

The first two stages of the plan also gave member associations the opportunity to transform Forward Development grants into COVID-19 operational relief funds, with a minimum of 50% of released funds to be allocated to women’s football.

The third stage, approved by the FIFA Council overnight, centres on a system of grants and loans. A universal solidarity grant of US$1 million will be offered to all member associations, with an additional grant of US$500,000 to be allocated specifically to women’s football. Each confederation will also be given a grant of US$2 million.

Additionally, member associations will be eligible to apply for interest-free loans amounting to up to 35% of their audited annual reviews. Loans will range in value from US$500,000 to US$5 million. Each confederation will have access to a loan of up to US$4 million.

Member associations will be able to direct grants and loans to the wider football community in their respective territories, including clubs, players, leagues or others that have been affected.

The relief plan also includes a governance model, which will introduce strict controls on the use of funds and audit requirements, and include clear loan repayment conditions. A steering committee will be set up to supervise the administration of the scheme and will be led by Olli Rehn, the Deputy Chairman of the FIFA Governance Committee who also serves as the Governor of the Bank of Finland and is a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank.

In addition, the FIFA Council has supported an invitational competition for men’s national teams from Arab nations from Africa and Asia, to be played from 1st to 18th December 2021 and will involve home-based players only.

The organising committee for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will deliver the 22-team tournament and will allow the organisers to use facilities and run operations that are planned for the World Cup. The tournament will take place during the same timeframe of the World Cup, with the finals of the two competitions to be held on the same day, separated by 365 days.

Image: FIFA's headquarters in the Swiss city of Zurich.

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