Football will be different after coronavirus crisis, says FIFA chief Infantino

The head of football’s governing body acknowledged there will be changes when the sport is eventually allowed to return

FIFA president Gianni Infantino warned football will be “different” when it returns, and it says it is impossible to know when leagues will resume.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the majority of the football world to a standstill as governments across the globe attempt to tackle the outbreak of Covid-19, with close to one million confirmed cases across the world and over 52,000 people having died after testing positive for the virus.

Last week, FIFA chief Infantino conducted an interview with La Gazetta dello Sport in which he pondered the possibility of reforming football with fewer competitions to try to cope with the disruption to the calendar.

Addressing the 72nd Ordinary CONMEBOL Congress during a speech via videolink, Infantino stressed the message that tackling the coronavirus crisis remains the most pressing concern.

“Football is not the most important thing, health comes first and should remain our priority until this sickness has been defeated,” he said.

“The world is facing new challenges and we have to stay together and work as a team. This is the lesson that football can give: to work as a team.

“Tomorrow we all would like to see football again, but we don’t know when we will be able to resume playing and no one around the world knows when we will be able to play like before.

“It is very important that football follows the instructions of the health authorities and governments, and it is very important that football gives a good example, because it’s clear that no match is more important than a human life.

“This we need to clearly have in our minds, while at the same time…working with confidence and thinking positively towards the future.

“We have to look ahead and can’t remain passive as [the coronavirus] will affect us. Both our world and our sport will be different once we return to normality.

“It is our responsibility as football administrators, first of all to ensure football can survive and secondly move forward once again. This is not only our responsibility but also our obligation.”

The Jupiler Pro League, the top tier of Belgian football, has become the first major football league to end its 2019-20 season early due to the coronavirus pandemic.