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Global Football $19.6 Billion Setback

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ccording to football’s global governing body, FIFA, the COVID-19 pandemic has cost the sport AU$19.6 billion this year.

A notable jump from the AU$55-60 billion usually generated annually according to FIFA.

In June, a AU$2 billion relief fund was approved by FIFA to assist national federations and confederations with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chair of FIFA’s Covid-19 relief plan steering committee, Olli Rehn, told Reuters this figure is based on the club and international football resuming after being suspended for three months earlier this year.

“Football has been hit very hard by the coronavirus pandemic,” Rehn told Reuters.

“It has created plenty of turmoil at different levels with some professional clubs facing very serious difficulties.

“I’m also very concerned about youth academies and lower division clubs.

“It’s a huge number and it covers the football economy in its entirety.

“It cannot be an exact figure, but it is an estimate of losses in 211 member associations.

“The loss under any scenario was too great for FIFA to mitigate alone.

“We are working very intensively with confederations to improve the situation,” he said.

Manchester United have experienced a debt increase of AU$225.5 million since over prior year quarter.

Barcelona has been estimated to have lost AU$249.7 million over 2019/20, Juventus a loss of AU$115.7 million; and Real Madrid is estimated to be losing AU$1.6 million per month while their stadium tour is suspended.

Rehn stated that as many as 150 of the governing body’s 211 member associations have already applied for emergency Covid-19 grants.

The European Club Association (ECA), estimated that clubs across the continent’s top 20 divisions will suffer combined revenue losses of AU$6.4 billion.

Rehn said that many associations had applied for the women’s game grants.

“Conditions are constructed so that you cannot use it, for example, for building new pitches,” he said.

“FIFA’s funding flows are transparent.

“All beneficiaries have to account for ever single cent to auditors…

“We have learned our lesson and we are improving our actions,” he told the Guardian.

Rehn stated that the greatest losses would be to South America, Africa and Asia.

“If you look at the breakdown of losses in absolute and relative terms, European clubs and member associations were most impacted in absolute figures,” Rehn said.

“But relatively those outside Europe have struggled more, especially in Latin America, mainly as a result of revenue mix and season timing.

“Smaller countries that are dependent on FIFA will actually be hit least.

“It is a real danger that the good work that has been done developing football in Asia and Africa could be ruined, so we want to soften the blow and maintain the development that has been done.

“The critical thing will be whether a vaccine will be developed and can be used, and that we have medical and other means to fully contain and tame the pandemic, and that is uncertain,” he said.

The relief fund is anticipated to help global football get back on its feet in the coming year; however further delays for the sport could lead to further loss.