Wednesday 12 April 2023, 15:00

Major milestones for FIFA Guardians Safeguarding Diploma

  • Over 6000 learners from around the world have now completed course one: FIFA Guardians Safeguarding Essentials.

  • 90 FIFA Learners gathered as part of the first group of safeguarding officers taking part in the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma.

  • Residential workshops in England and France a core component of two-year education programme. Learners from across FIFA’s 211 Member Associations shared experiences.

In line with FIFA’s long-term commitment to embed safeguarding standards across the game, the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma continues to make landmark steps forward reaching new milestones, including the culmination of the first ever residential workshops this month. The five-day FIFA Guardians residential workshops that took place in England and France last month saw 90 FIFA learners move closer to graduating and becoming the first-ever group of trained safeguarding officers from across FIFA's 211 member associations (MAs).

FIFA Safeguarding workshop

As part of the wider FIFA Guardians programme, and since its launch on 28 January 2021, 6054 learners from around the world have now also completed course one – FIFA Guardians Safeguarding Essentials. The objectives of the five-day workshops that took place in England and France aimed to: • Develop learners’ confidence and competence as a lead safeguarding officer. • Understand case management in a football context. • Recognise their strengths and areas for professional development. • Share their experiences and learn from other associations. • Develop professional relationships that further their own safeguarding and support network. This Diploma consists of five online courses primarily aimed at nominated safeguarding officers across FIFA’s 211 MAs (known as FIFA learners).

FIFA Council Member and NZ Football President Johanna Wood at a FIFA Guardians Residential seminar

The first residential for FIFA learners took place from 6 to 10 March 2023 at St. George’s Park in the UK as part of the ongoing two-year curriculum. 62 learners from across English-speaking MAs participated in the workshop. Marie-Laure Lemineur, Head of Safeguarding & Child Protection at FIFA, said: “The FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma was developed and delivered by FIFA and the Open University (OU), together with global safeguarding experts, practitioners and academics. It is a complete open learning experience, available in English, French and Spanish for designated safeguarding focal points with FIFA MAs. “As well as being available to MAs around the world, in line with our commitment to help share safeguarding best practice in sport, FIFA also took a strategic decision to make the courses available for both the football and wider sport community. We are firmly committed to supporting those interested in learning how to better protect the most vulnerable groups, as well as building a global team of Guardians in football to ensure everyone can continue to enjoy our beautiful game.”

FIFA Guardians Seminar at INSEP

Reflecting on what she learned, Margaret Nimmo, HR Manager at New Zealand Football was very candid. “I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the residential but came out feeling much more confident about my ability to implement the safeguarding programme within NZ Football. Thanks to FIFA and the facilitators from the OU” she explained. In addition to the five online courses, FIFA learners have access to dedicated webinars, moderated forums, facilitated workshops and assessments that guide them through practical steps and examples of safeguarding best practice. Learners are required to complete the full programme to obtain their FIFA Diploma. “Completing Course 5 online I thought I was ready. I was wrong" confessed Sydne Otsile Kafeka, from the Botswana Football Association. "The residential workshop was an eye opener. I left St. George’s Park a different person, a safeguarding officer with ammunition to safeguard children and vulnerable adults.”

FIFA Safeguarding residential

In line with the new FIFA Forward 3.0 regulations (article 08.u and v), the educational programme not only aims to enhance the protection of children in football, but also that of other at-risk groups in our game, such as young elite players, women, LGBTQI players and people with disabilities. Alison Kocoras VP, Safeguarding - Response & Welfare, U.S. Soccer Federation was grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with industry peers. “I'd like to thanks everyone at FIFA for providing such a fantastic program to those of us working in abuse prevention and response" she said. "The opportunity to discuss challenges, share ideas, and learn was invaluable. The workshop provided practical, hands-on training for addressing and resolving incidents of abuse in a trauma informed manner. I am very excited to apply what I learned in U.S. Soccer Federation's safeguarding program” she concluded.

FIFA Guardians Seminar at INSEP

According to Omar Amr Abou-Zeid, CAF Safeguarding Manager, “the residential was a great opportunity to unite and meet for the first time our counterparts from different federations and confederations from all over the world. "It was an exceptional experience to hear from others, to understand more about case management, and to inspire them with the work that CAF has been doing! Sport has the power to change the world and football should be leading” he added. Following the residential workshop in England, 28 learners from across the French and Spanish speaking FIFA MAs at INSEP in Paris to undertake the same five-day residential program. For many learners this was the first time they had met other safeguarding colleagues in-person from around the world.

FIFA Guardians Seminar Paris

Evelin Evies (Integrity and Compliance Officer at the Venezuela Football Federation) continued: “It was a week full of learning and gaining theoretical and practical knowledge. We were given the tools to protect children. Without doubt, the growth and development of football is achieved by protecting and guaranteeing the rights of the children that make up our foundation, because today's seed is tomorrow's fruit”. According to Monique André (member of the Normalisation Committee of the Haiti Football Federation) “participation in this residential course was very important in continuing to embed safeguarding within our association."

FIFA Safeguarding residential

All five online courses are open and freely accessible to anyone who wants to learn more about safeguarding in football. To register now and start your journey to becoming a FIFA Guardian, please visit:

Safeguarding principles

In line with the terms and spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the safeguarding of children in football is based around the following five principles:

Principle 1

We will act in the best interests of children. Ensuring that children are safeguarded is part of a commitment to enhancing their enjoyment and performance in football.

Principle 2

Children’s rights will be respected and promoted throughout the game of football.

Principle 3

The principles and practices in the toolkit will be applied to all children, with no discrimination of any kind.

Principle 4

Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of the country we are from or the role we hold in football.

Principle 5

Specific roles and responsibilities must be defined within Member Associations (MAs) and all concerns will be reported and dealt with appropriately.