Thursday 23 May 2024, 13:00

United Nations supports FIFA President’s call to celebrate an annual World Football Week

  • United Nations (UN) recently unanimously adopted a resolution to proclaim World Football Day

  • FIFA President Gianni Infantino has proposed to extend celebrations for five days annually in the form of a World Football Week

  • UN representatives signal their support for the World Football Week proposal at gathering in New York

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has thanked the United Nations (UN) for the “historic” World Football Day resolution, which was initiated by Bahrain, Libya and Tajikistan and subsequently unanimously adopted by 170 nations at the General Assembly earlier this month. Such support at a global scale is a testament to the unifying power of football, the world’s most popular sport, and its ability to bring people and nations together.

As per UN resolution A/RES/78/281, the annual World Football Day on 25 May was declared to acknowledge “the global reach of football and its impact in various spheres, including commerce, peace and diplomacy, and recognizing that football creates a space for cooperation”. The resolution was proposed to mark the centenary of the 1924 Olympic Football Tournament in Paris, France, as “the first international football tournament in history with the representation of all regions”. The date also coincides with the decision at the 17th FIFA Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1928 to create the FIFA World Cup™. To mark the passing of the resolution at the UN headquarters in New York, FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivered a statement to a gathering of member states representatives and UN officials which proposed to extend the celebration of the beautiful game.

Mr Infantino called to launch the World Football Week to mark a number of significant milestones during May, kicking off with the recognition of the founding of FIFA in Paris on 21 May 1904 and continuing the football festivities until 25 May. This proposal was subsequently supported by Dennis Francis, the President of the United Nations General Assembly at its 78th Session, and the Group of Friends of Football.

“I think it says everything about the unique power of football to unite the world that the resolution put forward by Bahrain, Libya and Tajikistan, co-sponsored by 170 countries, and so well supported by the President of the General Assembly, my dear friend Dennis Francis, was adopted by consensus by all member states,” the FIFA President stated via video message. “I can only congratulate you, you all on this historic decision. Football truly unites the world! And also the United Nations!” “But to celebrate the sport we all love, and the milestones in the beautiful game that happened during these days in May, I was thinking that – with respect – perhaps one day is not enough,” Mr Infantino added. “So, with your support, and to give as many opportunities for as many people as possible around the world, FIFA would like to declare the World Football Week, from 21 May to 25 May, with football uniting the world in joy and peace every year. It will be a week to show our love for football, to play it, to watch it, to enjoy it, to win or to lose, together, and I am really looking forward to celebrating World Football Week with all of you, ending with a global football party on World Football Day.” Also, FIFA World Cup winners Marco Tardelli and Gianluigi Buffon together with former France international Laura Georges lent their support to the resolution via video messages, as did Mr Francis along with other senior UN officials, and a number of UN delegates from across the globe, all of whom delivered their respective speeches wearing the national-team shirt of their respective country. The Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Bahrain, His Excellency Jamal Fares Alrowaiei, said on behalf of the co-facilitators of the resolution – Bahrain, Libya and Tajikistan – that such had been the support for the World Football Day initiative that UN members would be invited to join a newly established Group of Friends of Football, and he gave a positive response to the FIFA President’s proposal.

“On behalf of the co-facilitators, we wish to take this opportunity to thank the President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, for his message, and welcome his commitment and the initiative of the World Football Week leading to the global celebration of 25 May of World Football Day of every year,” said Mr Alrowaiei in the event’s closing remarks. “We look forward to working with FIFA through the Group of Friends of Football to promote and celebrate the fantastic game.” FIFA and the UN have developed a close relationship, working hand in hand in recent years to harness football’s popularity and influence to pass on messages of peace and inclusivity and develop initiatives that can positively impact society and improve the lives of millions of people around the planet. The two organisations teamed up notably at the FIFA World Cup 2022™ and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, with a number of UN agencies, such as UNESCO, the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization and UN Women, who were able to use the global platform to connect with billions of football fans. “FIFA and the UN have already worked together through football on so many projects, changing millions of lives for the better,” said Mr Infantino. “And I am delighted we now have yet another reason to spread joy… and I am sure there will be other opportunities in the future, and FIFA – as always – will be a willing and enthusiastic partner.”