Thursday 21 September 2023, 09:00

FIFA and UNHCR observe International Day of Peace

  • FIFA and UNHCR signed a MOU in July 2023 committing to work closely with those forcibly removed from their communities

  • The recent FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ enabled both organisations to ‘Unite for Peace’ and provide a group of refugees with a special match day experience

  • FIFA Foundation supports several non-profits to use football for the protection, development and integration of refugees

Each year the International Day of Peace (IDP) is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said, "Peace is needed today more than ever. War and conflict are unleashing devastation, poverty, and hunger, and driving tens of millions of people from their homes. Climate chaos is all around. And even peaceful countries are gripped by gaping inequalities and political polarisation."

On 12 July 23, FIFA and UNHCR, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further develop their long-standing working relationship. The agreement will lead to both organisations working closely with those forcibly displaced from their homes and help to strengthen communities through enhanced access to football, education and other opportunities.

The signing ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland, was conducted by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with both leaders committing to an ongoing relationship to use the power of football to positively impact global society, a key pillar of the FIFA President’s Vision.

The signing ceremony - just eight days before the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ - committed to ensuring the newly-formalised partnership was active throughout. The two parties used the tournament to call for the football community to Unite for Peace. During the Round of 16 matches, team captains were invited to wear armbands promoting this cause alongside messages on pitchside LEDs, stadium big screens and social media, reaching a global audience and providing huge exposure for this crucial message. During the tournament, a group of 40 refugees who fled conflicts around the world, were invited to a game in Melbourne/Naarm – a city they now call home. 

Colombia v Jamaica: Round of 16 - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023

Ahead of the Colombia-Jamaica Round of 16 match, the group enjoyed an access-all-areas tour of the stadium, where they posed with the Unite for Peace pre-match ceremony flag. They also visited the players’ dressing rooms, competition areas - including the tunnel and media areas – before leaving a gift for each of the teams and match officials - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, ‘Dream Balls’ designed by Gerald, a young refugee designer from Cameroon, now living in Italy.

Having been forced to escape conflict, the group – including refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, and Ukraine,  together with FIFA and UNHCR representatives, shared in a fun, sport-themed day, all united by a passion for sport. Among them were women’s national team players from Afghanistan, the Hope Australia Soccer Academy, as well as families who received FIFA assistance with their evacuation from Afghanistan.

Supporting non-profits working with refugees

The FIFA Foundation supports local projects that use the power of football to effect positive social change and address the most pressing global challenges facing underprivileged children and young people around the world.  Via its Community Programme, it engages non-profits in a variety of initiatives that contribute to the sustainable development goals, including good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, supporting impoverished communities, reduced inequalities, peace, justice and strong institutions – as well as the promotion of decent work and economic growth.

In 2023, the FIFA Foundation Community Programme has supported 114 organisations in projects, events and initiatives throughout the year; including several who use football for the protection, development and integration of refugees – promoting peace and acceptance within the communities they operate.