Charles Michel, President of the European Council met Gianni Infantino, President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). European Council President Charles Michel and FIFA President Gianni Infantino have stressed that football, given its unique global footprint, can play a key role in promoting social values that are central to the European Union.
European Football can build bridges between regions and people and help societies recover in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a meeting via videoconference, the two Presidents discussed a range of issues facing football and society, both in Europe and across the globe.
Champions League and Europa League in COVID19
eudebates in the language of football
“The discussion was extremely fruitful, and I was very pleased to see that we speak the same language, the language of football, a language shared by billions of people around the world,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “Our sport can help advance universal values and bring people together, especially at a time when the entire planet is going through an unprecedented health crisis.
“I assured President Michel that FIFA and the global football community will continue to support society, notably through education, in these times of hardship. We also agreed that by joining forces, key political and football institutions can help to effectively tackle some of the issues that are threatening our sport and society in general, such as child abuse and the financial malpractices and excesses that we have observed in the transfer system.”
European Council President and Gianni Infantino FIFA President discuss the role of football in the post-COVID-19 world
The two Presidents discussed the important role that football has played throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a powerful tool to raise awareness on key health measures and as a cohesion factor for society. In particular, the cooperation between European institutions, FIFA and the World Health Organization was highlighted, and it was agreed that further such collaborations should be explored in the near future.
The FIFA President outlined FIFA’s partnership with the African Union, after the signature of a memorandum of understanding in February 2019, and the joint projects carried out in the region. The two Presidents identified the importance of Africa and its role in the world, and the power of football to unite cultures and reach common objectives in the region.
The issue of abuse and harassment that has been affecting sports and many other areas of society was also raised by the FIFA President and it was stressed that there is the need for greater cooperation between sports bodies and governmental authorities to face this problem. FIFA’s project to create an independent, multi-sports, multi-agency international entity to investigate abuse cases in sports was presented, which was positively received by Charles Michel.
Charles Michel and Gianni Infantino discussed the ongoing reform of the football transfer system initiated by FIFA in 2018, and shared the view that new rules are needed to ensure financial transparency and protect the integrity of the game. The FIFA President took the opportunity to thank the European Council President for the productive exchanges with different EU bodies throughout this reform process.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on association football
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption to association football (also known as soccer) across the world, mirroring its impact across all sports. Across the world and to varying degrees, leagues and competitions have been cancelled or postponed. In Europe, various knockout matches in the Champions League and Europa League were played behind closed doors in February and March 2020.