FAI to receive €1.28m Covid fund from Fifa

FAI to receive €1.28m Covid fund from Fifa
Fifa president Gianni Infantino: 'This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times.'

The FAI is to receive a $1.5m (€1.28m) grant 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 (€424,000) for women’s football, while interest-free loans of up to $5m (€4.2m) will be made available for federations worst hit by the pandemic.

Due to the crisis, 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 $2.7bn (€2.3bn) in cash reserves.

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

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said of yesterday’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 the 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.

Meanwhile, League of Ireland First Division clubs have reacted angrily to being denied the opportunity of charging subscriptions for streaming their matches.

The League of Ireland of season restarts tomorrow following the four-month Covid-19 enforced break, with social distance regulations capping the number of fans at stadia to 50.

As the new streaming service, WatchLOI, only applies to top-flight games, First Division clubs were arranging their own service but have been informed they cannot sell the product.

Drogheda United chairman Conor Hoey led the backlash, predicting “significant pushback to this bizarre idea”.

Elsewhere Roberto Lopes insisted the squad and staff of league leaders Shamrock Rovers took a 25% pay cut to protect the employment of the club’s support personnel.

Although half the club is owned by benefactors Dermot Desmond and Ray Wilson, the Hoops players felt they needed to make a gesture four weeks after fixtures were suspended.

“It means that nobody can say that administration staff were let go,” said the centre-back.

“The club has been so good to us and that includes those in ticketing, the club shop and other admin roles. People don’t see what goes on behind the scenes and those who make your life easier. That came into the talks. If there was any way that we could help them by taking a pay cut, then we would.”

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