"Football is a powerful force in community life, local activity, and social diversity. The game is a key arena for learning about society's rules, integration, sharing, forging bonds and harmonious coexistence. It is a formidable tool for social action of which the influence extends well beyond the confines of the pitch."
These few words offered a succinct summary of the Chairman of the French Football Association's vision for the sport. Having come from an amateur background himself, Jean-Pierre Escalettes has striven to re-ground football in its social context since taking up the reins in 2005.
It was, therefore, with unabashed pride that, on 27 February last, he announced the launch one of the projects most dear to his heart: the Football Foundation.
The mission of this Football Foundation is to initiate, implement and support educational or citizenship programmes within all of France's football clubs. Through these actions, the aim is to restore the value of the sport's social role, based on the strengthening of the social bond, diversity, solidarity and civic education.
The watchword of this foundation will be "respect" and its actions will revolve around three key themes: self-respect (of which the former captain of the French women's team, Corinne Diacre, will be the public face); respect for others (represented by Lilian Thuram); and lastly, respect for the environment (figurehead: Bixente Lizarazu). In each of these activities, the club will always be at the heart of the project.
After the period required for the set-up of this ambitious project, the first actions should take place in the autumn of 2009. The funding will by provided by the FFF and through corporate sponsorship - the provisional budget being 2 million euros for the first year of operation.