FIFA President Gianni Infantino has stressed that no football match is worth a life and health remains the top priority, but that football needs to take its own responsibility to ensure the sport “survives and moves forward” in his address to the 72nd Ordinary CONMEBOL Congress.
“Football is not the most important thing, health comes first and should remain our priority until this sickness has been defeated,” the FIFA President said in his address from Switzerland as the event was staged by video conference owing to the coronavirus pandemic. “The world is facing new challenges and we have to stay together and work as a team. This is the lesson that football can give: to work as a team.”
“Tomorrow we all would like to see football again, but we don’t know when we will be able to resume playing and no one around the world knows when we will be able to play like before,” Mr Infantino said. “It is very important that football follows the instructions of the health authorities and governments, and it is very important that football gives a good example, because it’s clear that no match is more important than a human life. This we need to clearly have in our minds, while at the same time…working with confidence and thinking positively towards the future.”
“We have to look ahead and can’t remain passive as (the coronavirus) will affect us,” he added. “Both our world and our sport will be different once we return to normality. It is our responsibility as football administrators, first of all to ensure football can survive and secondly move forward once again. This is not only our responsibility but also our obligation.”
While mentioning that FIFA has acted immediately, both to postpone matches and to support the World Health Organisation in various messaging campaigns as the coronavirus broke, the FIFA President also outlined that extensive consultation is currently taking place in order for football to be prepared for the key challenges that lie ahead.
“On the international match calendar we have to look for global solutions to tackle these global problems in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity,” Mr Infantino said. “Everyone has different interests, but we must talk and put on the table topics that we perhaps didn’t discuss in the past. I am convinced that we will find solutions for the international match calendar.”
“On the legal framework, how can we provide help on contractual matters?” he added. “We have a task force which is already working and will be making proposals very soon in order to protect the clubs and players.”
In relation to financial support, he thanked the Bureau of the FIFA Council for its work over the past four years that has allowed world football’s governing body to be in a solid financial position and ready to tackle issues as they arise.
“FIFA stands for credibility, something that we couldn’t say some years ago,” the FIFA President concluded. “This is the new FIFA that we have created that works for the benefit of football and faces the problems. This is why we are now working to see how we can help. We will assess the damages, we will talk about this topic in another working group with the confederations and we’ll consult all relevant stakeholders, and we’ll answer by supporting football. This is the FIFA we all want—a strong and precious FIFA that makes everyone proud, because everyone is FIFA."