World football governing body Fifa has announced plans to stage a football match to raise funds for Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT), a World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative seeking to develop coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics.
WHO launched the initiative last month to mobilise the resources needed to advance work towards protecting the world from the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
The world football governing body’s president, Gianni Infantino, yesterday said in a statement that the proceeds from the match will go towards ACT.
He said: “It is our responsibility to demonstrate solidarity and continue to do everything we can to participate and support the efforts in the combat against the pandemic.
“We have been active in raising awareness via several other campaigns, and Fifa has also contributed financially to this cause, but now we commit ourselves to organise this global fundraising event when the health situation permits, even if this is only in some months’ time.”
Meanwhile, Fifa says it will announce more details on the match, including the date and players to be involved.
Fifa Foundation chief executive officer Youri Djorkaeff said: “Further details of this unique event, including the location, date, participants and format will be announced by the Fifa Foundation in due course.
“Various scenarios and plans are currently under consideration, all of which are in line with health and other relevant guidelines from respective governments and international organisations.”
Fifa Foundation was created in 2018 as an independent entity to help promote positive social change around the world and raise support for the recovery and reconstruction of damaged or destroyed sports infrastructure worldwide.
The match comes at a time most leagues and competitions have been suspended as social part of a distancing measure to control the spread of the virus.
In this regard, soccer analyst George Chiusiwa observed that Fifa’s decision to stage the match could send wrong signals that it is now safe to play football.
He said: “It’s important that Fifa should tread carefully on this for the implications of the decision are serious. The gesture by Fifa is welcome to raise funds to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this would mean that it’s possible for member associations, including Malawi, to resume football.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) suspended the 2020 season kick-off in April and has provided relief packages for players, referees and officials in the TNM Super League and lower regional leagues.
The association’s president Walter Nyamilandu, who is also Fifa Council member, yesterday said FAM has no plans to get involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities such as the Fifa Foundation match at a time when football activities are suspended.
“Our focus at this stage is towards the players and officials; hence, the two initiatives that have been rolled out already,” he said.
There have been calls from other stakeholders to resume football, but Nyamilandu insisted FAM will only do so once Ministry of Health advises the association that it is safe to do so.