On April 6, the United Nations marks the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (https://bit.ly/323SQ4t) by recognizing the role that sport and physical activity play in communities and in the lives of people around the world.
The occasion has special resonance this year as the world seeks to recover from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with sport certainly playing a crucial role in that effort.
To mark this important date in the calendar, FIFA President Gianni Infantino wrote the following article in the UN Chronicle in which he details how FIFA and its many programs remain “at the service of society” in this time of global need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of unprecedented distress and loss for the whole world. Most important is the tragic loss of loved ones that so many have suffered. We have also lost much of our social life and human interactions, including everyday activities such as participating in or watching a football game.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and with the rollout of vaccines, we hope that life will return as it’s meant to be lived: together, without the barriers and constraints imposed by the pandemic.
As it has done before, football, the world’s most popular sport, will play a central role in bringing communities together. Thanks to football, we will be able to get back in shape physically, socialize with our teammates and rivals and fill the stadiums again. We will find some of what has been lost over the past year and hopefully bring back joy and smiles.
We also have a unique opportunity to make a fresh start. Football can be a powerful tool for action on many pressing global issues, including many of the most important United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as those related to health and well-being (SDG 3 ), quality education (SDG 4). , gender equality (SDG 5), peace and conflict resolution (SDG 16).
Football and the governing body of sport, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), have unprecedented global reach. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia was watched by more than half of the world’s population, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 was watched by over a billion people. This wide visibility provides our sport with a unique platform to promote the universal values of fair play, inclusion, solidarity, diversity and teamwork, all essential to achieving the SDGs.
We are also fortunate to be able to call on some football stars – the FIFA Legends – who are living examples of these values. They generously use their own platforms to spread messages on important social issues and help us reach a much larger audience, beyond football fans.
Sports organizations themselves have a role to play and should lead by example by engaging in partnerships to contribute to the international development agenda. FIFA has recently forged alliances with a number of United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN-Women , the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Food Program (WFP) – for the achievement of social development goals, including the promotion of healthy lifestyles, prevention of crime, sports integrity, youth development, gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as education.
Education is indeed at the heart of our global efforts to create a better world. Through the Football for Schools program, we are investing $ 120 million in educating young people around the world through football to help them develop life skills. Delayed due to the pandemic, the program is expected to fully start operations in 2021, when it can also help address educational disruptions caused by COVID-19, especially in some of the worst-affected regions of the world. .
FIFA is also leading the way in creating safer sporting environments, putting in place safeguards to protect children through the FIFA Guardians program, which aims to professionalize the role of protection officers in football.
Given that we need to work with state and local authorities in this area, we concluded a memorandum of understanding signed last year with UNODC, aimed at potentially creating an independent, multi-sport, multi-agency, international entity with the authority and experience to assist international sports and ensure that we work with law enforcement and governments to eliminate all forms of abuse and investigate where appropriate.
As we continue to fight COVID-19 and its effects, we do so with the goal of not just helping football – as we did with an unprecedented $ 1.5 billion support package for game organizers around the world via FIFA COVID-19. Emergency plan (https://fifa.fans/39NYP1j) – but also society as a whole. From the moment the pandemic was declared, we, in collaboration with the WHO, have contributed vital public health messages to promote safe hygiene practices aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. We continue to work closely with WHO and amplify messages that support good health and save lives.
Football and society have a symbiotic relationship: what is good for society is good for football and vice versa. On this International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (April 6, 2021) (https://bit.ly/323SQ4t), FIFA is at the service of society and we will continue to play the role we can to support the resumption of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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