BERN (Reuters) – FIFA president Gianni Infantino has warned against re-starting soccer too early amid the coronavirus pandemic, telling FIFA’s 211 member associations on Friday that such behaviour would be irresponsible.
Soccer around the world has come to a standstill with domestic leagues on hold and major tournaments such as Euro 2020 and the Copa America postponed for one year.
“Our first priority, our principle, the one we will use for our competitions and encourage everyone to follow is that health comes first,” Infantino said in a statement on Friday which FIFA said was specially aimed at its members.
“I cannot stress this enough. No match, no competition, no league is worth risking a single human life. Everyone in the world should have this very clear in their mind.”
Meanwhile, discussions are being held around the world over when and how to re-start the season while in some countries there are disagreements over whether players should face pay cuts.
“It would be more than irresponsible to force competitions to resume if things are not 100 per cent safe,” Infantino said.
“If we have to wait a little longer we must do so. It’s better to wait a little bit longer than to take any risks.”
Infantino reiterated that FIFA was assessing the financial impact of the stoppage so it could prepare the right response.
“You have to know that we will be there and we will find solutions together,” he said. “You will never be alone… (and) the world will know where the money goes and, equally important, why the money goes there.
“If soccer manages to have a discussion where everyone contributes positively, and keeps in mind the global interest over the individual one, I am convinced our future can be better than our past, and we will be better prepared for the times ahead,” Infantino added.
Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond