OFC provides regional solidarity fund

The Oceania Football Confederation has created a solidarity fund to support staff, volunteers, players, coaches, referees and the region's wider football community during the coronavirus pandemic.

The OFC Executive Committee unanimously approved funding to it's 11 Member Associations to help reduce the impact of Covid-19, with each Association eligible to apply for up to NZ$50,000.

The grant, which is part of the OFC FIFA FORWARD funding, had been designed to cover four key areas, including food and hygiene packets, loss of income, medical allowances and self-isolation costs.

The Solidarity Fund would also provide assistance to those countries that were directly affected by the category five Cyclone Harold during the pandemic.

OFC President Lambert Maltock said it was important to support their Member Associations during these difficult times.

"I believe OFC has a duty and responsibility to reach out and assist the needs of the football family across our region affected by the current health crisis and by Tropical Cyclone Harold that recently had a major impact in countries including Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu," he said.

"As FIFA President Gianni Infantino has stressed in his last message, the health and wellbeing of our football families are the top priority for us during this unprecedented situation.

"In fact, after the cyclone, the President has called me to express his sympathies with the challenges we are facing."

All Member Associations within OFC had been forced to temporarily close during the pandemic, with many staff working from home while a range of countries are in lockdown to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said football was a community in the Pacific and they wanted to ensure Member Associations had the ability to continue to thrive.

"The health and safety of the wider football community is our key priority and we believe the development of this fund will play a crucial role in that," he said.

"We understand that each Member Association will face their own unique challenges and we want to do everything necessary to provide them with support."

Oceania Football last month suspended all football activities in the region until at least 6 May."

While there are no concrete plans regarding when football will return in the region, Castillo said they were speaking regularly with various stakeholders throughout the game.

"We believe that safety should be the most important factor when we make future decisions regarding any postponed OFC tournaments," he said.

"While we all want the game to return soon, we must not put anybody in danger to play football matches."