A few weeks after being invited to the Ballon d’Or Gala by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, Italian defender Simone Farina was asked to become a Football for Hope ambassador. Writing in reply to the invitation, Farina, who plays his club football for Serie B side AS Gubbio, told the FIFA President he would be delighted and proud to accept.
“I would like to thank you for the wonderful letter you sent me,” wrote Farina. “I feel very honoured to know that I have your ‘family’ by my side at these difficult times. The opportunity to take part in your Football For Hope programme fills me with joy. It has always been a dream of mine to repay my gratitude to the sport I love by making myself useful for the good of society.
“I would like to thank you once again for your kindness and the support you have given my family and I, and remind you that I remain humbly at your service.”
The 30-year-old made a name for himself when turning down a bribe from a betting ring to influence the outcome of a 2011 Coppa Italia tie between Gubbio and Cesena last season. Farina showed his love for the game by then reporting the incident, actions that were lauded by the head of world football’s governing body.
“FIFA seeks not only to promote the game and inspire the whole world through the competitions it organises, but to build a better future through Football for Hope,” wrote Blatter in his letter of invitation to Farina. “As spokespersons for the work we do, and in helping to increase the visibility of our actions, the Football for Hope ambassadors play a valuable role.”
It is a role that is tailor-made for a player who has become a paragon of sporting virtue and fair play.