KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- FIFA president Gianni Infantino has urged all of football worldwide to put the popularity of the game at the service of public health in the confrontation with coronavirus.
As deaths across the planet reached towards 7,150 and European nations headed into lockdown, so the head of the international football federation lined up its approach with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
His missive came hours before European federation UEFA staged a video conference of its own 55 members to consider the effects of the crisis and the likely postponed of the Euro 2020 finals due to be staged across 12 countries in June and July.
Competitive football has come shuddering to a halt across most of the game with all Europe’s major leagues suspended as well as 2022 World Cup qualifying matches from Asia to South America.
Infantino, re-elected last year for his first full four-year term in succession to disgraced fellow Swiss Sepp Blatter, issued his call to arms in an open letter to FIFA’s 211 national associations and its stakeholders.
“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.
“In partnership with the WHO, we are launching awareness initiatives designed to provide practical steps and recommendations and steps to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
“I highly recommend you to also, at your level, use the power of football to send out and spread these key messages.”
Infantino listed as a reminder the WHO recommendations concerning personal hygiene and social distancing, etc.
He added: “So far the world football community has shown a sense of solidarity and unity in the face if this threat and we should continue to do the same when thinking about how to address the consequences we will have to face for the future of our game once this serious risk to human health is behind us.
“We all have to take this matter seriously while, at the same time, remaining calm and assured in both our response and our decision making.
Infantino’s statement was in stark comparison to the public stance taken by Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, who has largely looked beyond the coronavirus crisis in his belief in the successful staging of the Games in Tokyo in July and August.