FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura addressed a global audience of sports ministers and high-level sports officials from more than 110 UNESCO member states at UNESCO’s 6th International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials responsible for physical education and sport (MINEPS VI), held in Kazan, Russia. Samoura seized the opportunity of the global gathering of sports-policy makers to stress the importance of partnerships between governments, national associations and FIFA to enhance access for all to sport as well as increasing the contribution of sport – notably football – in the realisation of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In the introductory remarks of her keynote speech, Samoura stressed the importance of close collaboration between FIFA and UNESCO in pursuing common goals and fostering social development through education. She also took the opportunity to thank UNESCO for the inclusive and collaborative process that the UNESCO secretariat had ensured throughout the process of defining the MINEPS VI policy themes to which FIFA had actively contributed. 

The main themes of this edition of MINEPS – namely, inclusiveness, sport’s contribution to sustainable development, and integrity – have all been and still are at the core of FIFA’s ongoing work and various initiatives.

As an example of such meaningful synergies, Samoura outlined the “Football for Schools” projects, which aim to incorporate the promotion and practice of football and other sports for girls and boys in the school curriculum. As part of FIFA’s strategic roadmap FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future and the FIFA Forward Development Programme, the design and implementation of these programmes contribute to the development of the game at the national level while placing the game at the service of local communities. The projects provide support through tangible actions such as renovating existing pitches, training instructors, coaches and referees, providing equipment to schools, instructors, coaches and referees, and promoting life skills through capacity-building in training methods and social education components. The programmes draw on the specific expertise, roles and capabilities of each of the project partners that are key for successful implementation, while specific project components will introduce new national school competitions.

“The concepts of social change and education must be core aspects of each of our projects,” said Samoura during her speech highlighting the potential of football to promote international cooperation and meaningful synergies, thereby fostering social development and integration. 

FIFA already has pilot projects of this kind under way and the intention is to conduct additional pilot projects throughout 2017 and 2018. “Football for Schools” projects will then be rolled out on the basis of expressed interest by the national associations and the specific local sporting and football conditions in each country. 

FIFA has been involved in UNESCO’s sport policy structures since 2012 when upon invitation by UNESCO became renewable member of the Permanent Consultative Committee (PCC) to the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS). Since then, FIFA has been contributing to relevant sport-related work as well as the sports policy framework of MINEPS VI.