Football fights Covid-19

World Cup heavyweights aid the COVID-19 fight

France and Croatia line up before the Russia 2018 Final
© Getty Images
  • Russia 2018 finalists France and Croatia are helping their people
  • Germany’s coaches are using their time in a novel way
  • Brazil has not overlooked its women’s or lower-league clubs

“Usually, you’re behind us, encouraging us,” Didier Deschamps began a heartfelt video the French Football Federation (FFF) put together to uplift and thank healthcare workers across the country.

“We sing and applaud you,” said Kylian Mbappe. Paul Pogba added, “You will win – we’re certain of it,” before the last of the 22 players and coaches featured, Olivier Giroud, signed off with: “You will bring home victory against this virus.”

The FFF has also made a consequential donation to the Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, or the AP-HP Foundation, the largest hospital system in Europe to aid healthcare and research to tackle COVID-19.

Croatia, whom France beat in a thrilling 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Final, not only had to deal with the aforementioned pandemic but also a 5.5-magnitude earthquake which devastated Zagreb late last month.

The national team’s players and staff, including Croatian Football Federation (HNS) President Davor Suker, coach Zlatko Dalic and captain Luka Modric, immediately clubbed together to raise 4.2 million Croatian kuna, around USD 600,000, for two government campaigns: ‘Croatia against Coronavirus’ and ‘Together for Zagreb’. The money will be used to rehabilitate hospitals, purchase medical supplies and cover treatment.

A joint statement from the players and staff read: “With this action, we want to show that we are committed to supporting our people and our capital and that together, as always, we will overcome these great challenges.

“We stand with all our hearts for the people who have shown great courage, ability and strength in this crisis, from doctors and nurses through to firefighters, police officers, soldiers and members of the Civil Protection Staff to the people who work daily for us to live relatively normally. We will win this together.”

Over in Germany, who conquered Brazil 2014, Stefan Kuntz, Manuel Baum and Guido Streichsbier should have been preparing the national youth teams for a 2021 that has scheduled the UEFA U-21 Championship, FIFA U-20 World Cup™ and FIFA U-17 World Cup™. COVID-19 has, as we know, ripped up their plans.

The esteemed trio have, however, been using their time to educate, via video conferences, amateur coaches across Germany on how to keep in touch with players and keep their spirits up, setting up online training programmes, and even coaching techniques. Today will mark the second instalment of the joint initiative by the German Football Association (DFB), Kicker magazine and Fussball.de.

“Our national team coaches are sharing their advice, knowledge and experience with many coaches from grassroots level up,” said Meikel Schonweitz, head of the DFB’s youth national teams. “We are pleased to have many amateur coaches coming to us with questions and taking part in our video sessions.”

Brazil, which has hosted two World Cups and won a record five, has done its utmost to ensure that its unparalleled number of professional clubs – not just its elite – and its thriving women’s teams have funds to fall back on. Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) president Rogerio Caboclo announced an investment of 19 million-plus reais, just under 4 million USD, which will aid, among others, its 68 Serie D outfits.

“We’re living an unprecedented moment, a global crisis, the extent and consequences of which cannot yet be estimated,” said Caboclo. “It’s necessary, therefore, to act with principles and responsibility. Our goal, with these new measures, is to provide immediate aid.”

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