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FIFA Races Toward a Plan to Help Soccer Clubs Survive Shutdown

  • March 27, 2020

FIFA’s most direct initiative, though, is a suggestion that it could dip into its own cash reserves to help pay salaries for players suddenly left without an income.

FIFA has also anticipated the chaos the current suspension will wreak on the annual $7 billion player trading window. Discussions that sometimes take months have been squeezed into days, as an urgent plan to change the contours of the global transfer windows has quickly come together.

Perhaps the most pressing concern for FIFA is Europe’s summer trading window, which had been set to open in some of Europe’s biggest leagues as early as May. That is now impossible, given that the current season cannot be completed by then. FIFA said it would not put a deadline on any league to finish the current season and would also approve any requests to change the dates of the transfer window. Teams could carry out transactions for as long as 16 weeks, FIFA said, four weeks longer than the previous maximum for a window.

A working group led by Victor Montagliani, a FIFA vice president, discussed the matters Thursday, though no final decisions were made.

The head-spinning nature of events brought on by the novel coronavirus has led to a rare period of collaboration among soccer’s biggest leagues, clubs and governing bodies to find a solution. That was made clear in a letter sent to members of the European Club Association, an umbrella group for around 200 top-division teams. It was written by Agnelli, the organization’s chairman who is also president of the Italian club Juventus.

Agnelli described the current standstill as “a real existential threat.”

He laid out two key objectives for his group: First was defining strategies to get players back on the field safely. That emphasis suggested a desire to play games without spectators at first, probably for a lengthy period.

The group’s second focus, Agnelli said, was coordinating efforts to “to help manage club financials in this time of social and economic crisis.”

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