Tuesday 24 October 2023, 14:20

FIFA President states impact of football in uniting the world

  • Gianni Infantino asks “what better than a football game” to bring people together?

  • States FIFA’s mission to invest in global game to “bring football everywhere”

  • FIFA President speaking at Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia

President Gianni Infantino has underlined FIFA’s determination to use the unique power of football to unite the world while speaking at a conference in Saudi Arabia.

The FIFA President was the driving force behind the ‘Football Unites the World’ umbrella campaign launched at the FIFA World Cup 2022™ in Qatar. Its scope was widened to highlight eight social causes at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ with issues such as gender equality, education for all and poverty among those in the spotlight.

FIFA has echoed the initiative on the pitch, expanding both its flagship senior tournaments with the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ growing from 24 to 32 teams for the 2023 edition, while the FIFA World Cup 26™ will be the most inclusive ever with 48 countries competing.

“You see that as soon as a ball enters a room, everyone is smiling. Everyone has joy in his face, her face, and I think this is exactly where football has to help and wants to help. ‘Making football truly global’ [and] ‘Football Unites the World’ are not just slogans, but actions that we want to put in place,” said the FIFA President at the 7th Future Investment Initiative summit in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

“It manages to really bring people together, to make people understand each other, and we need to really work in this direction, because especially in our divided world, we need occasions to come together, to speak with each other, to know each other and what better than a football game?”

The FIFA President noted that of the estimated USD 200 billion revenue generated by football globally, some 70% comes from Europe with 70% of that due to investment from outside the continent.

While acknowledging the importance of having a strong confederation setting the tone, Mr Infantino highlighted the need to level up standards across the globe with a seven-fold increase in FIFA Forward funding to develop football-related projects since 2016 a key factor in achieving that.

Our mission has to be to bring football everywhere, to invest in all parts of the world.

Gianni Infantino
FIFA President

“This is targeted to invest in football, in football pitches, in dressing rooms, in stadiums. So that, in the rest of the world, whilst helping Europe to grow – because it’s very important to have a locomotive which is strong – helping the others as well to come up and to compete,” he explained, giving the example of how for the first time teams from all six FIFA confederations won matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™.

“The same for the beautiful [FIFA] World Cup in Qatar, where Morocco reached the semi-final, this had never happened before. And this is certainly due to constant investment, development, nurturing of talent; because you have talents everywhere, you just have to find them and grow them.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and FII Institute CEO and Ra&A Executive Chairman Richard Attias during the FII The New Compass Conference

That ambition will soon see a concrete initiative to further it with the FIFA U-17 World Cup™ for both boys and girls to be held annually.

In addition to enabling football talent to flourish, Mr Infantino also underscored the wider social impact of football tournaments with a combined five million supporters in stadiums and an estimated seven billion globally glued to their TV sets for the men’s finals in 2022 and the women’s finals earlier this year.

“When you have all these people who live a passion, because they don’t just watch a movie, or play a game, they share, they communicate, they feel a passion all together,” he explained to an audience of some of the 5,000 delegates from around the world expected at the conference, which gathers leading decision-makers in a range of areas to discuss various 21st-century developments and concerns.

“So, the more competitions we have, the more participants we have, the more occasions we have to force people to meet on the football field rather than somewhere else, sadly, we should push for that.”

He added: “We have to look at what football can do to unite now in this more and more divided world. I hope that some of the countries, some of the regions which are suffering today, tomorrow – they can join forces and, maybe, host a FIFA event together.”