KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Players’ union FIFPRO has sought to step into the leadership void created by the indecision of many international federations and national association about how best to confront the coronavirus outbreak.
Covid-19 is spreading most of the way around the world – though, notably, not yet in Africa – since erupting at the end of last year in China.
The Asian confederation, meeting the restrictions imposed by various countries, has led the way in postponing matches and meetings while the Chinese, Korean and Japanese leagues have been suspended.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has insisted the game has no need to panic while European federation UEFA appears to be awaiting official instruction from government experts across the continent.
This has not satisfied FIFPRO, the international players’ association, which has expressed a concern “for the safety of players who may be exposed to the coronavirus and the danger of football acting as a vehicle to spread disease.”
Players had contacted national unions out of fear they could be made to perform in high-risk environments.
FIFPRO said: “We are pleased to see a number of matches that were due to take place next week in the AFC Champions League have been rescheduled. We are now looking beyond next week’s AFC Champions League matches, in close co-operation with the AFC, to find appropriate longer-term solutions.
“Our talks with various football stakeholders also address the rescheduling of international dates, including but not limited to qualifying matches for this year’s Tokyo Olympics and 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
The union acknowledged “the inconvenience this causes worldwide” but reminded the game at large that “the covid-19 outbreak is bigger than football.”
It added: “As the coronavirus continues to spread, with new cases emerging every day, we are calling on all football stakeholders to act responsibly.”