Within the framework of the Football for Hope movement, FIFA, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) today established a partnership to create development opportunities for children and young people living in poverty in the region through the promotion of football.
The four organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Toronto recognising that football is a powerful tool for the creation of human capital as well as a vehicle for the development of self-esteem, community integration and technical and leadership skills.
The MoU seeks to consolidate support from other organisations, businesses and/or sources of private funding and identify initiatives through which football can become a support mechanism and foster academic and personal development.
"Football provides an unparalleled platform to promote social development," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. "It was therefore important to establish this new partnership with the IDB, as it will no doubt create a strong foundation and act as a beacon of hope for a better future to children and youngsters across the Americas."
"The IDB believes in the power of football to mobilise the private, public and non-profit sectors to have a positive impact on young people," said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. "The social commitment of FIFA, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, combined with the bank's ability to work with governments and bring people together through our networks and outreach programmes and our experience and institutional knowledge in developing social development projects represents a solid platform," he added.
The agreement recognises that children and young people living in poverty are more exposed to the perils of the street and therefore one of its key objectives is to provide alternative activities to help young people stay away from crime, vice and working on the streets. One way of achieving this objective is through the establishment of recreation and sports centres in low-income communities as part of an integrated youth development strategy.
The MoU will also promote initiatives for personal development such as scholarships, counselling and mentoring, using sports stars as role models and ambassadors.
"The IDB's social and institutional development projects fit perfectly with the philosophy of solidarity in the football family," said CONCACAF President Jack A. Warner. "We are proud to team up with an organisation that has been making such a positive impact in Central America and the Caribbean for nearly half a century."
"Signing this partnership is a victory for all of South America," said CONMEBOL vice-president Eugenio Figueredo. "As a patron of one of the flagship IDB projects in my home country of Uruguay, I have seen through first-hand experience how valuable these programmes can be and what a difference they can make."
In the past two years, the IDB has invested over four million dollars in non-reimbursable financing for initiatives promoting football as a tool for development, such as the A Ganar (or Vencer as it is known in Brazil) programme, which uses football to help economically disadvantaged young people convert sports skills into employability and market-driven technical skills.
Through its partnership with FIFA, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, the IDB hopes to expand these types of initiatives throughout South America and the Caribbean in order to benefit more children and young people.
FIFA's partnership with the IDB was established within the same framework and with the same philosophy as its agreement with the European Commission (focusing on African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and signed in the presence of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on 9 July 2006) and reflects world football's governing body's mission to 'develop the game, touch the world, build a better future´.