FFT pledges €21 million for French pandemic relief fund 

The Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT) has pledged €21 million to help the sport in France during the coronavirus pandemic, joining the LTA and the Italian and Spanish tennis federations announcing relief funds for the game nationally.

“The clubs will get around 60 percent of the funds, which are €21 million,” FFT President Bernard Giudicell told le Journal Dimanche.

“Seventeen percent will go to international tournaments and professional umpires, and a little more than 10 percent to independent teaching pros, who don’t have partial income.

“Finally, 10 percent for professionals that are Top 100 in France, but who will not get something from the ATP and WTA plan.”

The ATP, WTA, ITF and 4 Grand Slams have announced $6 million to help lower-ranked players while the tours are on hiatus.

While the FFT joins Great Britain, Italy and Spain among the European national associations pledging relief funds to support the sport overcome the effects of the pandemic, it is the first to include professional players as beneficiaries.

With most of its earnings coming from the French Open, which is about €260 million annually, the federation has postponed the clay court major scheduled to begin on 24 May until two weeks following the US Open in September.

No other events have officially been rescheduled.

Henri Leconte playing in the 2019 World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide last year

© Mark Brake/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Henri Leconte has hit out at plans to hold the French Open behind closed doors if necessary, saying it makes ‘no sense’.

COVID-19 led to Wimbledon being cancelled for the first time since World War II, while the US Open is still scheduled to proceed at this stage.

“I honestly think [playing Roland Garros behind closed doors] is not the best solution,” Leconte, the 1988 French Open runner-up, said.

“I think it’s more a way for the [French Tennis] Federation to keep people alert following the lockdown. It’s only been two days since the lockdown was eased.

“We’ve realised that the French public is not [very careful]. We see kids and youngsters not being careful. I just hope that we won’t face another wave.

“I also think that playing Roland Garros behind closed doors makes no sense. I don’t think that it serves the sponsors, it’s a complicated thing to deal with for the players. It’s more of a political decision.

“The federation hopes that in a few months everything will be behind us and that we will be able to play Roland Garros. They’re trying to keep that hope alive. That’s my opinion.”

France has seen more than 178,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with its death toll exceeding 27,000.



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