The subject of social responsibility was the focus of the SONY
Football Circle on Wednesday evening at the Home of FIFA in Zurich.
A large number of invitees from the worlds of sport, politics and
culture met in a relaxed atmosphere in the auditorium of FIFA
headquarters on the Sonnenberg mountain to listen to presentations
from the guest speakers.
After a few words of welcome, host Claudio Ammann, CEO of SONY Overseas SA, handed over to Lander Unzueta, Head of the Barcelona Football Club foundation, who gave an insight into the kind of social work that a top international club can carry out. The Catalan outfit have no shirt sponsors, instead choosing to sport the logo of UNICEF, the United Nations' children's fund. Barcelona donates five million Euros every year to the organisation to support and promote its projects, and their motto - 'More than a Club' - illustrates their commitment to social responsibility. "Behind the badge beats a heart," concluded Unzueta, quoting the club's founder Joan Gamper.
Federico Addiechi, Head of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department at FIFA, then outlined the situation from a global football organisation's perspective, explaining that the governing body's mission is based on three pillars: "Develop the game, reach out and touch the world and help to shape a better future." Addiechi pointed out that 0.7 per cent of FIFA's total earnings is devoted to CSR. He also gave a detailed description of the 'Football for Hope' which is the key element of a strategic alliance together with streetfootballworld which supports football-based worldwide projects, in which football is used to reach social developments. "Founded in 2005, the Football for Hope Movement consists today already of 70 programmes in 47 countries," said Addiechi. (Click on the link on the right of this page for more information).
Later in a podium discussion, Chelsea CEO Peter Kenyon and Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of the Swiss watch manufacturers Hublot, detailed the social programmes of their respective companies. "Football is a great means of doing good," said Kenyon, "but the problem is that while football in general does do a lot of good, it gets very little publicity for it."
Kenyon also explained that "there is no basic approach which works for everyone. It is all about the fundamental principle that words need to be followed up with deeds".
Jean-Claude Biver went a step further, saying that we are now in the "century of sharing", and adding that "as a luxury brand, we need to start sharing". Hublot is the official timekeeper of UEFA EURO 2008, but Biver was proud to announce that the company will not carry out any advertising. "The boards around the pitch will not carry the name 'Hublot' but instead have the statement 'Fight against Racism' on them," he said.
To conclude the event, which was attended by such stars as Olympic gold medal-winning ski-jumper Simon Ammann and former Swiss international Stephane Chapuisat, the guests were treated to a delightful interview with Swiss coach Jakob 'Kobi' Kuhn carried out by current Miss Switzerland Amanda Ammann. Kuhn discussed the forthcoming EURO finals on home soil ("We're hoping to move on from Basel, meaning that we have qualified for the next round") and gave a glimpse into his future plans. "I have decided that I want to be in charge of my own time again. I can categorically state that I will no longer coach at the highest level, but it may be that I get involved in youth development," he said.
The evening illustrated how important social commitment is not only to large global firms but also to international federations in terms of improving the quality of life of those who are socially underprivileged.