‘Football can change the world’

  • Gianni Infantino speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos

  • The FIFA president took part in a roundtable moderated by Patrice Motsepe, along with Ronaldo, Édouard Mendy, Jill Ellis, Arsène Wenger and HE Hassan Al Thawadi

  • The session was opened by His Royal Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar

At the World Economic Forum, FIFA President Gianni Infantino reaffirmed his long-held belief that football has the ability to appease and unite. He used the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ as an example of an opportunity to seize, following the pandemic and international conflicts that isolated and divided people around the world. “Mandela said sport can change the world, it can inspire and it can unite. He was right,” said Mr. Infantino against the delegates gathered in Davos, Switzerland. “Football is the most popular sport in the world, which gives it an exceptional reach.” “The last FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cups™ were watched by 4 billion and 1.2 billion people, respectively. The global population. These women and men share the same passion, they feel the same emotions and they know that football is a uniting force.”

President Infantino underlined FIFA’s commitment to harness the power of football for society, contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and use sport as a force for good. He estimated that a gross product of USD 200 billion and a gross value added of USD 150 billion, the equivalent of a small to medium-sized country, presents enormous opportunities and responsibilities. “If you transfer this economic potential to the social dimension of football, football changes lives,” Infantino continued. “He changed many: those of the players, some of whom become stars, or even the boys and girls who, thanks to football, discover friendship, team spirit and many other values. “Economic impact is therefore accompanied by a social impact. And then there’s the emotion, this something irrational and inexplicable.”

The FIFA President stressed the importance of events such as the FIFA World Cup™, which brings together people of different religions, ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. “It’s a very special year,” President Infantino noted. “We have come out of a pandemic to find ourselves in a divided world. We need to bring people together. The World Cup gives us a good reason to do that. Come to Qatar from November 21 to December 18. You will experience the of your life and the best of the World Cups. You will discover the Arab culture and history and receive a warm welcome. It may bring a little balm to the heart of the world.” Entitled “Sport as a unifying force”, the session was opened by His Royal Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, who reiterated the fundamental message of the unifying force of football.

“The impact of such a sporting event goes far beyond entertainment,” he said in the preamble. “It’s about mutual understanding between different cultures and backgrounds. The people of Qatar and the region are excited to show their hospitality and the ancient culture of the Arab world.” Moderated by the President of CAF and Vice-President of FIFA, Dr. Patrice Motsepe, the roundtable brought together Ronaldo, two-time winner of the FIFA World Cup™, Édouard Mendy, to become the best goalkeeper of FIFA 2021, winner of the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA Club World Cup™, Arsène Wenger, Director of FIFA World Football Development, Jill Ellis, two-time winner of the FIFA Women’s World Cup FIFA™ as coach, as well as HE Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.

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