Thursday 31 March 2022, 11:00

Dr Tedros: I’m grateful to FIFA and Qatar for sharing our health goal

  • Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, addressed the 72nd FIFA Congress

  • Highlighted the partnership between FIFA and WHO following the memorandum of understanding signed in 2019

  • Stressed the legacy that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ can leave

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, addressed the 72nd FIFA Congress, highlighting the importance of football in helping people to be healthy, and thanking Qatar for its work and involvement in promoting and protecting health in all corners of the world. The signing of a four-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with FIFA in 2019 kick-started a range of joint initiatives, a commitment from both organisations to promote health for all.

“The World Health Organization’s partnership with FIFA is one of the most powerful opportunities to beat the global threat of non-communicable diseases, including heart and lung diseases, diabetes and cancers, which are responsible for over 70 per cent of diseases globally,” said Dr Tedros. “This partnership will deliver help globally. Leveraging the inspiration and influence of football, we all have a unique opportunity to help young people and all our communities lead healthy lives through improved physical activity, healthy diet, and saying ‘no to tobacco’.” Dr Tedros also had words of appreciation for the work being done by Qatar and its Ministry of Public Health. “Qatar might be small in size, but it’s large in stature,” he said. “I especially thank them for the role it has played in supporting the WHO emergency operations in Afghanistan over the past year.

"We very much appreciate their support for protecting and promoting the health of people all over the world. But I want you to know that we are also committed to protecting and promoting the health of the people of Qatar.”

Much of Dr Tedros’ speech focused on the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, as he emphasised the role that the tournament will have in creating “a legacy for sport and health to help deliver our goal: to help all people everywhere to be healthy, to the highest possible level”. “It’s now just 225 days until the [FIFA] World Cup kicks off,” he added. “Like billions of people around the world, I’m looking forward to it. Our aim is to help make this year’s tournament healthy and safe for everyone: fans, staff, players, and coaches, as well as the billions of people watching the tournament at home. I’m grateful to FIFA and Qatar for sharing our goal to promote #HealthForAll. I urge every football federation to join us in this effort.” The WHO Director-General also sent a message to the representatives of all the member associations present at the FIFA Congress. “As national football federations, you can help us reach this goal by putting in place [the] best practices,” he concluded. “By mobilising your leading players and coaches to be advocates for change and health for all. And by supporting our efforts to share advice, tips and guidance to football fans in your countries to help them be healthy and safe.”