The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the sports sector, including routine sports and physical activity which may pose a risk to participants, coaches, administrators, and spectators. The pandemic has also significantly impacted the education sector, resulting in school closures and profound disruption, including to physical education. These challenges, among many others caused by the pandemic, may hamper the ability to deliver the Football for Schools (F4S) programme as originally intended. Further, it may be challenging for schools to prioritise a new intervention such as F4S in light on other priorities and catch-up strategies, as well as the safety risks posed by team sports.

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Ensuring the health and safety of all those involved in football is a major priority for FIFA, including in the F4S Programme. FIFA has partnered with the World Health Organisation and United Nations to create a COVID-19 Resource Centre offering guidance to people to protect their health and wellbeing.

The F4S programme recognizes the risk that the pandemic presents to the planning and delivery of activities. As such a risk-adjusted plan has been developed to ensure that related risks are mitigated. The programme timeline has been impacted by the pandemic, with certain actions delayed and/or due to take place virtually where possible, such as consultations, regional workshops and trainings. Online training manuals and tools will be created and made publicly available to support F4S stakeholders. Further details on mitigating risks related to COVID-19 are provided in the table below.

All stakeholders in the F4S programme are advised to follow the regulations and guidelines of the relevant health authorities in their region, including guidelines related to sport and physical activity.

For updated information and guidance please visit the World Health Organisation website

Supporting the response and recovery efforts

The F4S programme, and other sport-based initiatives, may play a role in the COVID-19 response. This may include the programme providing space for education and psychosocial support in relation to the pandemic, aligned to the relevant country’s response efforts. The programme may also contribute to the rebuilding and strengthening of socialization and collaboration, promoting learning as a social experience. Sport, and in this case football, can be key for socio-emotional and psycho-social attention of children, and even their families, and may provide relief from the current crisis.