FIFA and the United Nations today reiterated their support for the role of sport in general and football in particular to world development, during the visit of the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the headquarters of FIFA, where he was received by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
"We are deeply honoured to have the UN Secretary-General join us in the home of FIFA," said the President. "Our longstanding partnership has helped to bring football to the world and make it a better place."
"Sport has an incredible capacity to work as a catalyst for positive change in the world and I can't think of anything that can bring people together like football," said the Secretary-General. "For 90 minutes at a time, people become one nation."
Annan and Blatter discussed issues such as the assistance that the values of sport and football can give in bringing about human development, world peace and tolerance, as well as the "school of life" that they provide for children and people worldwide. Other topics included the quest to improve the quality of education and health in less affluent nations through sport, and the lasting positive impact that organising one of the major sports competitions, like the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, can leave on the African continent.
"This is a partnership that is alive and well," said Mr Annan. "I look forward to our continued cooperation and seeing the UN flag flying high at FIFA competitions."
These matters will also form part of the agenda for the Opening Media Lunch of the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), titled "The Impact of Sports in the World', which the UN Secretary-General and the FIFA President will attend tomorrow (Wednesday, 25 January 2006).
This is the first time that a UN Secretary-General has visited FIFA headquarters. With this historic visit, Kofi Annan returned the one made by the FIFA President in June 1999, which marked the beginning of an era of close partnership between the UN and many of its bodies and agencies, such as UNICEF, ILO, WHO, UNEP and UNDP, and FIFA and its member associations in projects such as "Say Yes for Children", "Red Card to Child Labour" or "Unite for Children, Unite for Peace" (for more information on these projects, please see: http://www.fifa.com/en/fairplay/index.html .
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FIFA COMMUNICATIONS DIVISION / Zurich, 24 January 2006 / 2006-0007-UN-Annanvisit-E.doc