By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria alongside 210 other countries will benefit from $1.5 billion grants and loans that have been made available by the Federation of the International Football Association (FIFA) Relief Plan to support countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The football governing body noted that the fund, which will be given through a system of combined grants and loans under strict compliance requirements, is meant for the football community including men’s and women’s professional, youth and grassroots football.
This means each member association will benefit from $1 million grant to protect and restart football, and an additional $500,000 specifically for women’s football during the third phase.
Under the terms of the COVID-19 Relief Plan, $1.5 billion is being made available to support all 211 FIFA member associations and the six confederations to assist in the alleviation of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan was originally drawn up by the FIFA administration in close cooperation with the confederations and subsequently approved by the FIFA Council on June 25, 2020.
The body also noted that the interest-free loans of up to $5 million were available to member associations.
The requirement for the grants establishes strict compliance and audit requirements, as well as clear loan repayment conditions, under the supervision of a steering committee. This means beneficiaries will have to account for how the money is expended.
Speaking on this, the FIFA President, Mr Gianni Infantino, noted, “This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times.
“I would like to thank my colleagues of the Bureau of the Council for approving the decision to move forward with such an important initiative for the benefit of all member associations and confederations.”
In the first phase of the plan, the maximum amount of FIFA Forward operational‑cost entitlements to member associations was released.
For the second phase, member associations have now been given the ability to transform remaining FIFA Forward development project grants into COVID-19 operational relief funds – with a minimum of 50 per cent of released funds to be allocated to women’s football.
Following on from today’s approval by the Bureau of the Council, FIFA will implement the third phase of the plan which completes the total amount of $1.5 billion being made available to the worldwide football community.
The final phase will comprise a universal solidarity grant of $1 million to all FIFA member associations, and an additional grant of $500,000 is being allocated specifically to women’s football. In addition, a grant of $2 million is being made available to each confederation. The full amount will be made available by January 2021.
In terms of loans, all FIFA member associations will be able to apply for interest-free loans amounting to up to 35 per cent of their audited annual revenues. In the interest of solidarity, a minimum loan entitlement of $500,000 and a maximum loan entitlement of $5 million will be available. In addition, each confederation will have access to a loan of up to $4 million.
With these, FIFA believes that member 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.
It added that in coming months, it will closely work with its member associations and with the confederations to assist them in the implementation of the plan through educational content and additional guidelines.
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