Coronavirus – All Africa seeks Fifa’s COVID relief fund help

Every single country in Africa has applied to Fifa to access a grant through the world governing body’s Covid-19 Relief Plan.

Formally approved in June, the Fifa fund is making US$1.5 billion available to its 211 member associations and six confederations.

On Wednesday, Fifa announced that it believes the coronavirus pandemic has cost the global football economy an estimated 14 billion US dollars.

“54 African member associations have applied for grants,” a Fifa spokesperson told BBC Sport Africa.

Fifa has revealed that over 150 countries have already applied for the scheme, meaning Africa represents around a third of the countries to have made a request.

Every member association can apply for a grant of up to $1.5m, a third of which has to be spent on women’s football which Fifa describes as a ‘key element of the Covid Relief Plan’.

Confederations can apply for up to $2m in funding, with four of Fifa’s six confederations having done so.

BBC Sport Africa understands that the Confederation of African Football is not among them, despite postponing a handful of income-generating tournaments, not to mention facing a hefty legal bill that could amount in tens of millions after cancelling a billion-dollar broadcast deal with Lagardere Sports.

There is no timescale on the request for loans, meaning that both member associations and confederations can apply as and when they need.

“Essentially, this is not about distributing money but achieving the right social and economic impact to support club football, players, staff, youth academies and member associations through these troubled waters,” said Olli Rehn, chairman of the Plan’s steering committee.

Rehn, the current Governor of the Bank of Finland, added that comprehensive auditing and compliance checks will be carried out to ensure all funds reach their intended destination.

“This is at the heart of this Covid relief fund,” the 58-year-old told reporters. “We do request and require full compliance with the best auditing standards. Corruption has no room in football.”

Two audits will be carried out on all funds devoted to countries, one conducted by a federation itself while the other will be carried out by a Fifa-approved auditor.

Under the plan, countries can also apply for an interest-free loan ranging from $0.5-5m which will be no greater than 35% of a federation’s annual revenues.

Meanwhile, confederations can access a loan of up to $4m should they fulfil the right criteria.

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