The OFC Executive Committee has unanimously approved funding to OFC’s 11 Member Associations to help reduce the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The OFC Solidarity Fund has been developed in order to support staff, volunteers, players, coaches, referees and the wider football community across Oceania during this difficult time.

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

In addition, the OFC Solidarity Fund will also provide assistance to those countries that were directly affected by the Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold during this pandemic.

OFC President Lambert Maltock drew attention to the importance of supporting our 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,” Maltock 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.”

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo echoed those sentiments.

“Football is a community in the Pacific, and we want to ensure our Member Associations have the ability to continue to thrive,” Castillo said.

“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.

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

All Member Associations within OFC have been forced to temporarily close with many staff members working from home while a range of countries are in lockdown to help stop the spread of coronavirus. OFC staff are working from home while their head office in New Zealand is closed.

Each OFC Member Association will be eligible to apply for funding totalling NZD$50,000.

OFC announced on March 9 that OFC football activities across the Pacific would be suspended until at least May 6 following news of the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

That decision was made to ensure OFC played their part in stopping the spread of coronavirus.

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.

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