FIFA President Gianni Infantino has called on football to show solidarity and unity in the fight against the coronavirus after speaking at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva following the launch of the latest WHO-FIFA awareness campaign which is led by world-renowned footballers.
“These are difficult days, it is a difficult time, and we have one big opponent, it is coronavirus, it is COVID-19,” the FIFA President said after attending a video conference alongside WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “In these times, football has to show solidarity and it has to show unity. We have to show that we are working together, that we are a team.”
The FIFA President stressed that, for the first time, the world needs to consider the globality of the coronavirus, but that health comes first. “This is a global problem…and global problems require global solutions, just as exceptional situations require exceptional measures,” he said.
“We have to pull all on the same side. We have to work together. We have to fight the coronavirus, this is the first priority, and everyone has to realise that this is serious. Football comes second. First we have to win this match against coronavirus and then we will deal with football matters.”
In that respect, the latest joint WHO-FIFA video campaign, entitled “pass the message to kick out coronavirus” involves 28 international football stars who reiterate the message for all people around the world to follow five key steps to stop the spread of the disease, which are focused on hand washing, coughing etiquette, not touching your face, physical distance and staying home if feeling unwell.
In relation to the future of football, the FIFA President assured that support will be forthcoming to deal with the circumstances. “We have to work on (football matters), we have to work on the future and assessing the damage to football as well, but that is not the priority right now,” he added. “We will do it and then we will come back stronger. We will come back with new ideas, new formats, with whatever football needs, but now it is time to fight coronavirus all together, as a team.”
The joint WHO-FIFA video campaign, which is being published on player and FIFA digital channels, is also being provided as individual localised files to the 211 FIFA member associations and media agencies, together with a graphics toolkit for implementation on social media to further pass the message.
FIFA has also pledged USD10 million to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO.