Friday 22 September 2023, 20:00

FIFA President: Everyone has the right to enjoy football in a safe environment

  • Gianni Infantino took part in the Safe Environment in Sport Conference via recorded video message

  • The event was held in Valencia as part of the European Week of Sport

  • Joyce Cook, FIFA Senior Advisor to the President's Office, participated in one of the panel discussions

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has taken part in the Safe Environment in Sport Conference held on Friday, 22 September at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain. The event was part of the European Week of Sport, within the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Mr Infantino participated virtually via a recorded video message in which he stressed that the millions of people who play “the world’s most beautiful game” globally have the right to do so in a safe environment.

“Football is about enjoyment – whether playing, coaching, refereeing, watching, or supporting. Here at FIFA, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the world’s most beautiful game in a safe and joyful environment,” said the FIFA President. “Millions of young people, women, and men all over the world play football, and especially children in their schools, in the playground, at any time and in any place. What all these people all have in common is the right to enjoy football in a safer environment, in a culture of respect and understanding.” Mr Infantino, who had been attending a number of meetings in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, stressed the responsibility of all parties in keeping everyone who plays football safe and highlighted the role FIFA plays in achieving this. “It is the responsibility of all of us – sports federations, government officials, national and international authorities - to do our best to keep all of those involved in football safe. At FIFA we strive to keep children and all adults including the most vulnerable ones that engage in football safe,” he said.

He emphasised that FIFA has a long-term commitment to protecting human rights thanks to FIFA Guardians, the safeguarding programme launched in 2020, and via FIFA’s Safeguarding and Child Protection department. Mr Infantino also referred to the first group of 100 FIFA Guardians Diploma learners who next month will graduate during the first-ever FIFA Safeguarding Summit. “The diploma is designed for anyone involved in football, and to date, over 8,500 people have already taken this course since its launch,” he said. Mr Infantino also highlighted FIFA’s zero-tolerance stance against all forms of violence harassment and abuse, the role of FIFA’s Code of Ethics, and the Memorandum of Understandings with both the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Council of Europe, including FIFA’s support of their Start to Talk Campaign.

“These are strong signs of not only our commitment but also an acknowledgement that we can only achieve change through collaboration and unity. In this respect, all of us together, we need to continue to advance and learn from each other to achieve the goal of sport becoming an ever-safer environment for all,” he added.

Joyce Cook, FIFA Senior Advisor to the President's Office, participated in the panel Harassment in sports environment – Situation and protection mechanisms alongside Kari Fasting, Professor in Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Cristina Almeida of the National Olympic Committee of Portugal and Ainhoa Azurmendi, a Spanish Doctor of Psychology. "We have to work on regional solutions, but we firmly believe from an extensive experience in receiving these cases that we also have to work on multi-stakeholder, international solutions,” she stressed.

Joyce Cook, FIFA Senior Advisor to the President's Office, participated in one of the panel discussions

Joyce Cook also thanked the IOC for its work and underlined the collaboration between the sporting governing bodies. “We’re now working together… and we are also now working intently on a more independent solution for football. All of us also understand that we have to do this with great care,” she continued. “We live in a world, where more and more athletes and players are feeling able to come forward. What we mustn’t do is let them down when they do.” The Conference included a number of sessions which featured members of the IOC, the Council of Europe, European Commission and the High Council of Sport, alongside national and local Spanish organisations.