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Health comes first, football comes second: Fifa president Infantino

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on June 24, 2020
Fifa president Gianni Infantino (right) with AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa. - Agencies file

AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said that forming a strong bond will help the football world rise again

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said that health is the priority and football comes second and added that the governing body has taken necessary steps to ensure the wellbeing of the players during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Football, like many other sport, has been hard-hit by the pandemic but following stringent health protocols and procedures, club football is back with action taking place behind closed doors.

The Bundesliga, German's top flight, was the first to resume with other leagues - the Spanish La Liga, the popular English Premier League and the Italian Serie A have followed suit even as the French Ligue 1 opted to call an end to the season.

Closer home, the UAE football season was abandoned last week with no winner announced.

Infantino, who took over the helm in 2016, said that the world governing body had been closely working with member associations and had taken different measures to alleviate the issues they are facing.

"Throughout the past period, we have been working together and closely been monitoring the health conditions. Health is always the priority in football. Health comes first and football comes second," Infantino said in a recorded speech as part of the webinar 'Covid-19 and football, how to shape a new future,' hosted by the UAE Football Association (UAEFA), in partnership with the UAE Pro League and the International Sports Convention (ISC), on Wednesday.

"We, as the governing body, took precautionary and preventive measures, where we had immediate communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) and cooperated with them to develop medical and health frameworks to fight the coronavirus and educate the community to return to football in a healthy way," he said.

"We supported our member federations financially, and we developed a global rescue plan worth $150 million. That is the first step and there will be more. We want to support and help our member federations. "We also looked at the health of players by raising the number of substitutions per game to five instead of three," the 50-year-old added.

On a closing note, Infantino hoped they could draw a new map for football in a post-Covid era.

Meanwhile, AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa too echoed Infantino and reiterated that cooperating and working together and forming a strong bond will help the football world rise again.

"The world will change, but it can be changed to a positive situation by cooperating and working together to rise again," said Sheikh Salman.

Meanwhile, UAEFA president Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi said: "We have seen the world unite during this pandemic and this proves that challenges, no matter what they are, cannot stand in the way of humanity. Everyone is responsible for themselves and those around them."

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