FIFA grants over $ 45 million in loans under COVID-19 relief plan

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World football’s governing body FIFA has provided a nearby $ 50million (£ 36million / € 42million) interest-free loan to national associations in the first six months of the launch. implementation of its COVID-19 emergency plan.

The figure of $ 45.8m (£ 33.3m / € 38.5m) – part of the $ 340.1m (£ 247.3m / € 286m ) disbursed under the plan between its approval last June and the end of 2020 – is revealed in a Annex to the annual report recently published by the football institution.

When the FIFA Council unanimously approved the plan on June 25, it was declared that it “would make available up to $ 1.5 billion (£ 1.1 billion / £ 1.25 billion). euros) to help the football community ”.

The new annex breaks down as follows: up to $ 152m (£ 110.5m / € 127.8m) from the immediate release of FIFA Forward 2019-2020 operational rights to national associations ; up to $ 465 million (£ 338 million / € 391 million) from the ability to turn remaining FIFA Forward development project grants into operational COVID-19 relief funds; up to $ 223 million (£ 162.1 million / € 187.5 million) from new solidarity grants; up to $ 105.5million (£ 76.7million / € 88.7million) from new grants for women’s football; and up to $ 556 million (£ 404.2 million / € 467.6 million) in loans.

Given that the first two sums on this list correspond to re-labeling of FIFA Forward items, and the last – the loans – would by definition have to be repaid, it could be argued that only $ 328.5 million (£ 238.8 million sterling / € 276.3 million) of the $ 1.5 billion is entirely new FIFA money.

Moreover, the early adoption of the two most important elements – the transformations of grants to development projects and loans – has been well below theoretical maximums.

Total loans at year-end – $ 45.8 million – stood at 8.2% of the total available.

Empty stadiums take a toll on football's finances © Getty Images
Empty stadiums take a toll on football’s finances © Getty Images

That amount for the grant transformation program – just $ 293,000 (£ 213,000 / € 246,400) – was comfortably less than 1% of the funds theoretically available.

This seems particularly unfortunate because “at least 50 percent” of the funds thus released were to be allocated to women’s football.

More encouraging for women’s football, 69% of women’s football grants made available under phase 3 of the relief plan – or $ 72.5m (£ 52.7m / € 61m) funding – had been released at the end of the year.

The 18-page appendix gives a comprehensive, country-by-country breakdown of how FIFA Forward funds and Phase 3 grants have been allocated through the end of the year, but there is no indication which associations are responsible for the $ 45.8 million loans under the relief plan.

The requests addressed to FIFA for this information gave rise to the response that “the list of member associations benefiting from the COVID-19 emergency plan… changes regularly”.

In addition: “FIFA plans to provide a further update before the next Congress.”

The annex study indicates that in total, five national associations had no funding allocated under the COVID relief plan at the end of 2020.

These were Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Yemen.

Nigeria appears to be the biggest recipient of FIFA COVID-19 relief funds © Getty Images
Nigeria appears to be the biggest recipient of FIFA COVID-19 relief funds © Getty Images

The top 20 beneficiaries of the COVID-19 relief plan funds at the end of the year, based on my calculations from the figures provided in the appendix, were:

1. Nigeria $ 2.45 million (£ 1.78 million / € 2.06 million)

2. Namibia $ 2.178 million (£ 1.59 million / € 1.83 million)

3. Gibraltar: $ 2.05 million (£ 1.49 million / € 1.72 million)

4. Congo, Sierra Leone: $ 2 million (£ 1.46 million / € 1.68 million)

6. São Tomé and Príncipe, Wales $ 1.9 million (£ 1.38 million / € 1.6 million)

8. Cameroon, Central African Republic, Morocco,
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Togo $ 1.85 million (£ 1.35 million / € 1.56 million)

13. Cape Verde, Mali $ 1.8 million (£ 1.31 million / € 1.51 million)

15. British Virgin Islands, Chad, Ghana,
Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Turkmenistan $ 1.75 million (£ 1.27 million / € 1.47 million)

To learn more about these numbers and the lack of transparency around lending and borrowing from sports organizations, read today blog post.



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