FIFA boss Gianni Infantino admitted on Thursday that "nobody knows" when football can resume around the world, and that when it returned it was "going to be different".
He said that because of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, for once football "is not the most important thing".
"We all wish that we could have football tomorrow but unfortunately it's not possible and nobody in the world today knows when we will be able to play like before," Infantino told South American football chiefs via video link.
"Our world and our sport is going to be different when we return to normality. We have to make sure that football survives and that it can prosper once again."
Like most other sports, football across the world has been largely halted by the pandemic, which to date has infected nearly a million people and killed more than 47 000.
In his message, Infantino said that "these are times of respect for those who suffer and for those who are helping".
"For the first time, football is not the most important thing! Health comes first and must continue until this disease is defeated."
Infantino was speaking by video link to a CONMEBOL congress in Paraguay.