FIFA eyes ‘strict compliance’ for virus relief plan

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the relief plan is a great example of football's solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, file)
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Updated 29 July 2020

FIFA eyes ‘strict compliance’ for virus relief plan

  • FIFA’s 211 member associations will receive a $1 million grant “to protect and restart football”

ZURICH, Switzerland: FIFA’s $1.5 billion coronavirus relief plan to revive the sport and help national associations stay afloat will come with “strict compliance and audit requirements,” the governing body of soccer said Wednesday.
The massive spending plan aims to help men’s and women’s professional soccer as well as youth and grassroots football through grants and loans.
“This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said.
The regulations establish appropriate use of funds and loan repayment conditions under the supervision of a newly created steering committee.
FIFA’s 211 member associations will receive a $1 million grant “to protect and restart football” and can access interest-free loans of up to $5 million. Each member association will also receive an additional $500,000 grant for women’s soccer.
Each of the six soccer confederations will also receive a grant of $2 million and have access to a loan of up to $4 million.
FIFA expects to make all of the funds available by January 2021. Some funds will be released this month.
The loans for member associations are limited to 35% of their audited annual revenues.
FIFA said in a statement that associations “will be able to use the funds for activities such as the restart of competitions, the implementation of return-to-play protocols, the participation of national teams in competitions, the hiring and re-hiring of staff, the maintenance of football infrastructure, and general administration and operating costs.”
Applicants must file reports proving their pandemic-related losses or needs and must specify how they plan to use the funds.
For women’s grants, associations must commit “to including the development of a women’s football strategy or the inclusion of a women’s football strategy with relevant details in its strategic plan.”
“Each member association that applies for the Women’s Football Grant has to subsequently provide FIFA with a report on the use of the Women’s Football Grant and the delivery on respective commitments signed and agreed with FIFA,” the regulations state.
The $1.5 billion total breaks down as $885 million in grants and loans, and it includes $617 million approved earlier this year in liquidity injections and additional support to member associations.


Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby

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Updated 03 August 2020

Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby

  • Season restarts after 144-day absence with safety measures, spectator bans

JEDDAH: The most popular rivalry in the Saudi Pro League (SPL) will take center stage as Al-Nassr host Al-Hilal on Wednesday, with safety precautions to allow the safe return of football in the Kingdom.

The eagerness for football’s return will be highlighted when players arrive fully kitted at King Fahd Stadium, ready to take to the pitch for the Riyadh derby on Wednesday night.
The kit rule is one of a string of new measures put in place during every league game to ensure the safe return of the country’s most popular sport, as players and coaches prepare for the SPL after a 144-day absence with a full round of fixtures starting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fans are unable to attend games due to social distancing rules, while other regulations have been put in place behind the scenes ahead of the season resuming on Tuesday night.
Players would usually arrive at stadiums on team buses, but these will now be reduced to smaller convoys with staggered team arrivals. Players will turn up in their kit ready to take straight to the pitch to warm up ahead of the game in order to avoid large numbers in changing rooms.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Players to arrive ‘match ready’ in warm-up kits.

• Limited number of players allowed in changing rooms at one time.

• Stadiums continuously disinfected.

About 30 precautions are being implemented across match days aside from spectator bans, with all clubs and players agreeing to rules set out by the SPL and Ministry of Sport.
Arrival points at stadiums will be spread out for teams and staff, while a maximum of five players will be allowed in changing rooms at one time.
While a lot of work has gone into the safety preparations behind the scenes, players will also avoid shaking hands or hugging on the pitch. Dugouts will be restricted to nine coaching staff and substitutes, with others seated in the stands while wearing masks.
On match days, stadiums will be disinfected, including changing rooms, corridors, advertising and even corner flags, with the league ensuring safety standards are maintained during the remaining eight rounds of fixtures.
Fans will not be allowed in stadiums but can still get behind their team and show their support through the SPL’s #OurLeagueIsBack digital campaign, which encourages supporters to share messages and join the conversation online.
Take part on Twitter at @SPL, Instagram at SaudiProLeague, Facebook at SaudiProLeague.SPL and by using the hashtag #OurLeagueIsBack.