Saturday 23 September 2023, 10:00

FIFA President meets WHO Director-General to assess collaboration’s progress

  • Gianni Infantino and World Health Organization’s (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus talk in New York

  • FIFA and WHO signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2019, extended earlier this year

  • #BeActive message used to promote numerous physical health and healthy lifestyle initiatives

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has met the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to evaluate the progress made in their ground-breaking joint-effort to promote healthy lifestyles through football.

FIFA and WHO signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 4 October 2019 with the aim of exploiting football’s unique power to encourage the global population to improve their physical and mental well-being. That agreement was extended by a further four years at the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on 24 May 2023 to underline their continued mutual commitment to the cause.

“Dr Tedros and I have worked together for some time now, but each time we meet I cannot help but be impressed by his determination and passion to improve the health of every single person on this planet,” said Mr Infantino in New York where he has had a number of meetings this week on the sidelines of the United Nations’ General Assembly.

“FIFA shares that goal, and we are fiercely proud to work hand-in-hand with WHO, using football as the vehicle to give people of all ages the opportunity to become fitter, healthier and – hopefully – happier.”

The FIFA President joined Dr Tedros in reviewing the WHO Exhibit at the United Nations building – a clinic-cum-installation to raise awareness of WHO’s mission of global health for all – and also spoke to a number of other senior WHO officials.

The partnership has certainly borne fruit in the almost four years since it was first formed. A number of successful digital campaigns have been promoted, such as the #ReachOut mental health campaign, the #SafeHome initiative designed to tackle domestic violence, or #ACTogether, which aimed to facilitate widespread access to vaccinations, vaccines and other medical necessities during the coronavirus pandemic in particular.

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™️ showed just how beneficial and impactful the FIFA-WHO collaboration could be as their messages to promote physical and mental health were relayed to billions around the world throughout both tournaments.

The Football Unites the World campaign, which had the support of stars past and present including Linda Caicedo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carli Lloyd, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Alexia Putellas and WHO Goodwill Ambassadors for Sport and Health Alisson Becker and Didier Drogba, helped get the global audience behind the various causes during both events.

In addition, through the #BeActive campaign, the FIFA-WHO partnership has championed getting children moving because data provided by the WHO shows some 80% of youngsters globally are not getting enough daily exercise.

“We have done a lot of great work together over the last four years and I am pleased that FIFA's Memorandum of Understanding with the World Health Organization was renewed earlier this year for a further four years,” the FIFA President added. “Football is the perfect vehicle for the message we would like to communicate to children in particular, and I assured Dr Tedros and Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, that the global football community is always ready to support the World Health Organization in any way we can.”