Fifa pay $1.5m coronavirus grant to FAI

The cash injection will be gladly received by the FAI, given their state grants remain frozen until radical governance reforms are introduced
Fifa pay $1.5m coronavirus grant to FAI

The FAI is to receive a $1.5m (€1.28m) grant and an interest-free loan of $5m (€4.25m) from Fifa as part of the world governing body’s Covid-19 fighting fund.

Earmarked within that payout to each of the 211 members is a ringfenced amount of $500,000 for women’s football, while borrowings will be made available for federations worst hit by the pandemic.

The FAI were already burdened by a financial crisis before the virus shut football down in March.

Traditional revenue streams such as season tickets for international matches and coaching camps have since been decimated by the outbreak, prompting interim chief executive Gary Owens to reveal in his recent Irish Examiner interview a worst-case deficit this year of €10m.

The FAI had already welcomed the early payment from Fifa in April of €500,000, half the annual grant dispersed from their Zurich headquarters, while also embracing their commitment to a further far-reaching relief plan.

According to their last set of accounts, Fifa had €2.5bn in case reserves.

The cash injection will be gladly received by the FAI, given their state grants remain frozen until radical governance reforms are introduced.

Fears have been expressed at ground level by FAI members about ceding ultimate control to independent directors under the reform proposals but new ministers responsible for sport, Catherine Martin and Jack Chambers, have this week reiterated the imperative around structural change.

As it stands, the FAI are awaiting last year’s allocation of €1.4m, along with this year’s enhanced pot of €5.8m in Sport Ireland grants.

These monies subsidise half of the salaries of the FAI’s development officers, who are represented by SIPTU.

A letter from government buildings last week also confirmed the release of Covid-19 emergency funding – understood to be around €10m of the overall €40m allocated to three main field sports – is contingent on “necessary conditions to restore public funding being met”.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said of today’s payout: “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% 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 $1.5bn being made available to the worldwide football community.

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