KAZAN: Just to prove that football administration is not all about greed and corruption there is always Football For Hope.
The latest forum was staged in Kazan on the eve of the Confederations Cup semi-finals with the world football federation’s secretary-general, Fatma Samoura, delivering a keynote address.
She told an audience which included ‘FIFA Legends’ Karina LeBlanc and Alexey Smertin: “There is something particularly touching when so many different people gather to promote social development. To look for the best way to transform the lives of those who need it the most.
“For me, this is what this Football For Hope Forum is about. Think of the meaning of bringing all these people together – exclusively to discuss social development through football.
“We tend to start taking these things for granted, but the truth is that this is incredible. This event, in itself, sends the most powerful of messages.”
One major purpose of the event, which included moderated workshops with presentations and a visit to the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 semi-final, was to help further shape FIFA’s Football for Hope initiative and to explore football’s contribution to the United Nations sustainable development goals.
Samoura said: “I have always been amazed by the power of sport and, in particular, football. In my previous work my best experience took place just after the genocide in Rwanda when the only way we could rebuild society and comunities in Rwanda was around the pitch.
“After months of hatred the only moments when we could see both communities accepting to talk to each other was for a project funded through the UNDP by FIFA and we used this as a common ground to start rebuilding trust and consolidating peace among young people.
“So I strongly believe that if football can reach the hearts and minds of people around the world like this then we, at FIFA, should be able to leverage this fantastic game and help bring about positive change in people’s lives.
“There are hundreds of organisations using football to deal with different and very specific social problems. That’s how powerful the game is.
“We all know it is not up to FIFA or football to solve all the problems in the world, far from it.
“But I do believe that, as custodians of the most important sport on earth, we have a responsibility which means a firm commitment to strive for social development, equality, diversity and environmental protection.”