Match cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic are hitting professional soccer hard, with many clubs cutting salaries or planning to do so in the immediate future. With no obvious end to the crisis in sight, FIFA is planning to use some of its cash reserves to prevent teams from suffering irreparable financial damage.
FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, makes money from selling media and sponsorship rights to to the men’s and women’s World Cups, as well as several other smaller competitions. It currently has $2.7 billion in cash reserves, and a FIFA spokesperson confirmed the organization is in discussions to provide financial assistance to soccer organizations around the world.
FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need. Therefore, we confirm FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.
The exact format and details of this assistance are currently being considered and discussed in consultation with FIFA’s member associations, the confederations and other stakeholders, having in mind that a decision needs to be agreed and announced in the near future.
Due to the wide scope of the problem and the need for approval from the FIFA Council — which has representatives from six continents — it will be extremely difficult to reach an agreement quickly. Thousands of clubs are in some degree of financial distress, so determining who gets help from FIFA, and what form it comes in, will be a serious challenge.
But, as the FIFA spokesperson’s statement implies, the organization needs to come up with a plan quickly. Broadcasters are already starting to withhold payments for media rights, and that problem is likely to accelerate rapidly. Sponsorship payments could dry up soon as well. Even if the worst of the pandemic is over in a couple of months, professional soccer could take several years to recover.