Tue, Jun

Players, coaches may benefit from FIFA COVID-19 Funding.

There are concerns in the local football fraternity as to why money from FIFA implemented COVID-19 Relief Fund is not used to pay players, coaches and other staff members.

The fund was introduced by the sport's world governing body to help Member Associations deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had affected sports around the world when it hit in March last year.

A report from FIFA states: "FIFA's Member Associations are each set to receive $1 million (£771,000/€849,000) as part of the governing body's COVID-19 relief plan. The organisation will make a total of $1.5 billion (£1.16 billion/€1.27 billion) available for its 211 Member Association from the six Confederations to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan, given the green light by the Bureau of the FIFA Council, was drawn up by FIFA administration in cooperation with confederations and was approved by the ruling FIFA Council on June 25."

President Gianni Infantino said: "This relief plan is a great example of football's solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times."

In the first phase of the plan, the operational cost entitlements to Member Associations were released.

In the second phase, MAs were allowed to transform their development project grants into COVID operational relief, while a third phase includes a universal solidarity grant of $1 million for all members as well as an additional grant of $500,000 (£385,000/€425,000) for women's football.

An additional $2 million (£1.42 million/€1.7 million) was set to be offered to each Confederation, with all full amounts being made available by January 2021.

In Jamaica, these grants were used to pay players' stipend and salaries, while in Barbados both players and clubs received monies from the COVID Relief Fund to help throughout the pandemic, said long-standing Barbadian Football Administrator and Caribbean Football Union president (CFU) Randy Harris revealed to Guardian Media Sports on Monday.

In T&T, Robert Hadad and his Normalisation Committee (NC) which were appointed by FIFA in 2020, were forced to make an about-turn after stating that the NC was not obligated to pay players a stipend and that that line item was not in a budget submitted to FIFA. Following media reports Hadad, the HADCO Group of Companies director has faced strong criticisms because players were unable to earn an income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NC boss had also refused to pay salaries, however, the concerns were addressed last week with a promise to pay following a meeting between the National Football Coaches Association of T&T and the NC.

According to Harris, national players can benefit from the COVID Relief Fund, which is what Barbados used to pay its players. "What we did was give the players monthly stipend, the players who were training in the national team. The coach decided on the amount of money for players based on the status of the team, in other words, if you are a starter or a likely starter you will get a certain amount. If you don't start you get another amount."

T&T local players are due to receive stipends at the end of this month, after close to a year of training with the team. It is uncertain if the amount will be a one-time payment.

Harris said he believes the difficulty posed for the players to be given stipends may have come from directives by the FIFA to the normalisation committee about how the funding is to be used.

Harris said the huge debt that T&T has found itself in, has made the situation difficult for players to be given a stipend.

Monies from FIFA, courtesy annual grants and COVID Relief funds have already been received by all member associations, with additional loans of up to $4 million being offered by the sport's world governing body.

The funds were made available for Member Associations to use for the restart of activities and competition, implementation of return-to-play protocols, the participation of national teams in competitions, the hiring and re-hiring of staff, the maintenance of football infrastructure and general administration and operating costs.