FIFA President: Shape a better football
FIFA will organise a series of online discussions with all member associations and other stakeholders in order to debate and assess proposals that might contribute “to shape a better football for the future”.
In a video message to FIFA’s 211 member associations, which was recorded in six languages (Video: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Italian), FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated that thanks to the ongoing consultation and work done by FIFA administration, a financial relief plan “to benefit all of football” is entering the final phase of preparation with the objective of being presented in the upcoming FIFA Council meeting, and that international match calendar discussions are closer to “a balanced solution”.
Gianni Infantino took the opportunity to reiterate once more the need to put health first as football gradually looks to restart across the world around the COVID-19 pandemic, and he highlighted the great efforts made by FIFA and the football community to protect the wellbeing of all participants.
The FIFA President also recognised that a route back to the stadiums for spectators will also need to be managed because football is not the same without fans, but this should be made in a safe and responsible way that also follows guidelines and instructions of governments and health authorities.
Here's the full message from FIFA President Gianni Infantino:
Firstly, I hope that you, as well as your families and friends are safe, well and healthy. Even if we are distant, we remain one team, and united we support those who have been suffering during this difficult time.
Following my last message, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide you with an update in relation to some activities at FIFA, starting by thanking the Bureau of the Council for its activities over the last two months.
You have seen the medical recommendations we issued last week to support a roadmap for the restart of competitions, which always keep in mind the most important principle: Health comes first! Also the possibility you have now to opt for five substitutions has the same purpose: protect the health – in this case of our players.
We need to maintain public health as the priority while not forgetting the wellbeing of players, officials and everyone who participates in any football activity.
FIFA trusts the judgment that you, together with the governments and health authorities of your countries, have made or will make. We hope that the WHO risk assessment tool and our guidelines can help you in deciding the best course of action.
Football is already underway or about to restart in several countries. This brings us, and all the football fans across the globe, some hope for the future. However, we also have to understand and respect different decisions, especially from those among us who still need more time to be sure that a restart can be done in a way that is safe for everyone. Tolerance and understanding are important, especially these days.
I support - FIFA supports - every one of you. There isn’t one right answer to all the situations. Each country is different with different contexts and no one better than you knows the best way to deal with this enormous challenge.
And: let’s not forget that there needs always to be a place for fans. Football without spectators is clearly not the same, but we need to be patient when considering the right time to bring fans back to the stadiums. We will continue to work tirelessly, but also discretely and respectfully, to move beyond these temporary measures, and to ensure that fans are welcomed back in a safe and responsible way.
Dear friends ….. This is a time to work together, to share experiences and to help one another. It is through this solidarity that we will also find the solutions to shape a better football for the future.
The need for top club football to resume has understandably taken priority, but we must also consider national teams, women’s football, lower-tier domestic leagues, youth and the grassroots game. We have to show unity across all aspects of football and make sure football can resume in its globality. This is our priority and our financial relief plan will also follow this principle.
In a constructive spirit of consultation that seeks to benefit all of football, FIFA is working hard to present a positive solution to the FIFA Council in the coming weeks.
We are developing a system which is manageable, but also needs-based. We want the financial relief plan to have a broad reach that includes women’s football and that operates in a modern, efficient and transparent way. This means having a robust governance structure, which also ensures accountability on how the financial sums will be allocated.
On another very important topic, namely the international match calendar, I am happy to report that we also made some good progress. In consultation with different stakeholders, we are closer to present a balanced solution that takes into account everyone’s challenges and needs.
I have mentioned consultation on several occasions, and if we can take out one positive element from this situation, it is certainly that thanks to you and through FIFA, football has definitively created an active and healthy channel for dialogue and discussion on all aspects of our sport.
Dear friends ….. Some time ago I said this could be a moment to take a step back and reflect. I was pleased to see that several football administrators, executives, but also coaches and players came forward and expressed their views. I had some interesting discussions with many of you.
To continue this collective brainstorming, I will be scheduling a series of online discussions to ensure all your voices - as well as the voices of other important stakeholders - are heard.
I firmly believe that our future can only be shaped by discussing it with you, the Member Associations of FIFA. Because you are FIFA. And we cannot and will not take decisions in some back door meetings amongst a small group of people. These times are definitely over! Now it’s your turn. And we want to listen to your views on important topics such as the future international match calendar and the competitions.
How should we deal with the increased number of matches played by top players? How many matches can a player play in a season?
How should our competitions be organised in the future, at FIFA level, at national level…?
And how can we better harmonise the calendar and the competitions between continents as football is becoming more and more global?
On the financial and governance aspects, I also heard some interesting proposals on a wide range of topics. From salary caps to transfer fee caps or other taxation mechanisms, to the possible obligation for governing bodies, competition organisers and clubs to build reserves or to contribute to a reserve fund which can be of assistance in hours of need such as now.
I personally advocate for clearer and stricter financial regulations, imposing full transparency and good governance principles, and not only limiting this to the transfer system, but to the entire football ecosystem. FIFA is doing already a lot of work on this area, even if we face some strong vested interests who fight against our plea for a better global governance in our sport. Dear friends, we will need your full support and commitment to move to the next level of good governance in football globally.
I think that these and other measures, projects and ideas should be discussed at all levels. I know that this is something that will spark intense debate, but debate is healthy, and we should speak about it all together – as we stand together during this difficult period.
To each and every one of you, my dear friends, please do keep safe and take good care of yourselves your families and your friends. Let’s continue to work for a better football. Because together, we will win.