FIFA's Infantino urges unity, calls for FAs to push WHO advice

By Simon Evans
Reuters
FILE PHOTO: UEFA Congress
FILE PHOTO: UEFA Congress

By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - FIFA is urging all football associations to publicise the World Health Organization's preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus, Gianni Infantino, president of world soccer's governing body, said in a letter to its members on Monday.

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting of European soccer's governing body UEFA, which will see calls for this year's European Championship to be postponed, Infantino also called for unity in dealing with the impact of the pandemic on the game.

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The FIFA chief said his organisation will use its social media and other channels to help popularise WHO advice about hand-washing, avoiding close contact and staying at home when showing symptoms of the virus.

In the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Infantino urged football associations and others in the game to follow suit.

"In partnership with the WHO, we are launching awareness building initiatives designed to provide practical recommendations and steps to tackle the spread of COVID-19," he said.

"I highly recommend you to also at your level use the power of football to send out and spread these key messages."

The FIFA president said the game had a responsibility to keep those involved in football as healthy as possible.

"Under these circumstances, we must now do everything in our power to protect fans, players, coaches, and everyone else involved in our beautiful game. Most importantly, the football authorities must take all necessary measures to prevent the virus spreading to the wider community," he said.

Most football leagues in Europe and many around the world have suspended play due to the spread of the virus and European governing body UEFA are meeting on Tuesday to discuss a possible postponement of Euro 2020.

Should the pan-continental Euros be moved to 2021 it could come into conflict with FIFA's plans for an expanded Club World Cup in that timeslot involving the world's leading club sides.

There is widespread uncertainty about how to finish domestic and international seasons and many clubs, leagues and federations are certain to face short-term losses in revenue.

But Infantino said it was vital the game stayed together in dealing with the problems.

"Thus far, the world football community has shown a sense of solidarity and unity in the face of this threat and we should continue to do the same when thinking about how we will address the consequences we will have to face for the future of our game, once this serious risk to human health is behind us," said Infantino.

"FIFA will keep in regular contact with all relevant stakeholders during this difficult period and look to find in due course solutions in a spirit of cooperation, taking into account the interests of football at all levels."


(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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