FIFA have lent their support to a project outlined by British prime minister Gordon Brown and French president, Nicolas Sarkozy to provide school places for 16 million children in Africa prior to the start of South Africa 2010.
FIFA, with its considerable experience of schemes such as Football For Hope, Win in Africa With Africa and 20 Centres for 2010, are fully backing and helping to drive the initiative in order to guarantee its future success.
The two leaders announced their intentions during the final press conference of Mr Sarkozy's two-day state visit to the UK where they met with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and FA Chairman Lord Triesman at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in north London. Both political leaders said that the aim was to provide the places in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Great sporting events like the FIFA World Cup, which will be organised for the first time-ever on the African continent in 2010, provide huge international momentum to use sport as a global force for change.
That is why world football's governing body is doing all it can - utilising its expertise and internal structures to make a positive difference. "FIFA fully supports and backs this initiative," President Blatter remarked during the meeting. "FIFA's expertise and the platform of the FIFA World Cup are the perfect opportunity to help make people's lives better and FIFA is devoted to bringing about that change for the good of the world while helping to promote grassroots football and football in schools."
"One of the great challenges in Africa is that 33 million children are not going to school this morning," added Mr. Sarkozy. "There is no school for them to go to and no teachers to teach."
Speaking on the pitch ahead of the press conference, Mr. Brown said that the two governments would be providing the assistance to charities and other organisations to enable them to build new schools and provide the teachers for them.
"The President of France and I have agreed that together we will finance eight million children each, 16 million children, who can be at school as a result of the changes we are making and the money we're making available by the time the World Cup gets to South Africa in 2010.
"That will mean that there are opportunities for children who are denied them at the moment, it will mean that we will be training teachers for the future, we'll be building schools with the different African Governments and with charities and other organisations who want to do this."