“The pandemic is accelerating. It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just 4 days for the third 100,000 cases. You can see how the virus is accelerating.” – WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus


To combat the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the international governing body of football has teamed up with the United Nations health agency by launching a new awareness campaign led by world-renowned footballers.

FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) and the World Health Organization have joined forces in calling on all people around the world to follow several methods to stop the spread of the disease.

The “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” campaign promotes five key steps for people to follow to protect their health in line with WHO guidance, according to a press release dated March 23 which EDGE Davao obtained.

“Many football matches have stopped – but our collaboration has become even more important during these difficult times,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the virtual launch of the campaign at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. “In fact, it’s given us the opportunity of working together more closely than we imagined. Football can reach millions of people, especially younger people, that public health officials cannot.”

“We need teamwork to combat the coronavirus,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “FIFA has teamed up with WHO because health comes first. I call upon the football community worldwide to join us in supporting this campaign to pass the message even further. Some of the greatest players to have played the beautiful game have put their names to the campaign and are united in their desire to pass the message to kick out COVID-19.”

The key messages are as follows:

Hands: “It starts with your hands,” says Alisson Becker, WHO Goodwill ambassador for health promotion, Liverpool FC and Brazil goalkeeper, and The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper, 2019. “Please wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based solution.”

The WHO says: Such frequent washing with soap and water, or preferably with an alcohol-based hand solution, kills viruses that may be on your hands. It is simple, but it is very important.

Elbows: “Cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow or tissue when you sneeze or cough,” says Carli Lloyd two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winner from the United States. “Dispose of tissue immediately and wash your hands.”

Droplets spread the coronavirus, according to WHO. By following respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from contracting viruses, such as cold, flu and coronavirus.

Face: “Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent the virus from entering your body,” adds FC Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi, The Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2019, and a multiple FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.

Hands touch too many surfaces and can quickly pick up viruses, the UN health agency contends. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your face, from where the virus can move inside your body, making you feel unwell.

Distance: “In terms of social interaction, take a step back,” says Han Duan, who represented China PR 188 times in an international career that spanned 11 years. “Stay at least one-meter distance from others.”

By maintaining such social distancing, the WHO maintains, you are helping to avoid breathing in any droplets from someone who sneezes or coughs in close proximity.

Feel – know your symptoms: “If you feel unwell, stay home,” concludes Samuel Eto’o, former FC Barcelona and Cameroon striker, who represented his country 114 times. “Please follow all instructions provided by your local health authorities.”

The WHO says that if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, you need to seek medical attention and call in advance.

“Keep informed as local health authorities provide the latest information on the situation in your area,” the WHO urges.  “Please follow their specific instructions, and call in advance to allow them to direct you to the appropriate local health facility. This serves to protect you and to help prevent the spread of virus and other infections.”

Twenty-eight players are involved in the video campaign, which is being published in 13 languages.

Aside from those mentioned above, the other players who appeared in the campaign were: Sami Al Jaber (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Emre Belözoğlu (Turkey), Jared Borgetti (Mexico), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Iker Casillas (Spain), Sunil Chhetri (India), Youri Djorkaeff (France), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Laura Georges (France), Valeri Karpin (Russia), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Gary Lineker (England), Mido (Egypt), Michael Owen (England), Park Ji-sung (Korea), Carles Puyol (Spain), Celia Sasic (Germany), Asako Takakura (Japan), Yaya Touré (Ivory Coast), Juan Sebastián Verón (Argentina), Sun Wen (China) and Xavi Hernández (Spain).

FIFA, which was founded in Paris, France, have also pledged $10 million to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, a secure way for individuals, philanthropies and businesses to contribute to the WHO-led effort to respond to the pandemic.