The Coppa Carnevale 2012, the prestigious youth tournament held annually in the Italian city of Viareggio was officially opened today by AS Gubbio star Simone Farina. The defender was given the honour of reading out the traditional Giuramento (Oath) that signals the start of the tournament, now in its 64th edition.

30-year-old Farina shot to fame last year with a notable Fair Play gesture when he denounced an attempt by an illegal gambling syndicate to get him to influence a 2011 Coppa Italia match against Cesena. This remarkable display of courage, which was recognised in his invitation to officially open the tournament, will be a genuine source of inspiration for the young footballers in attendance as they seek the correct path on the road to professional football.

“For me it’s a genuine honour to have read the Giuramento, and I have nothing but appreciation for the officials of the Centro Giovani Calciatori Viareggio club who have given me this opportunity,” said Farina, who played in two editions of the tournament with Roma. “Hopefully more Italian clubs will continue to invest in their youth teams, which could provide solutions to some of the financial problems in Italian football,” he added.

The pre-tournament address at the Coppa Carnevale, which this year features teams from Italy, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark, Uzbekistan, Russia, Norway, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Qatar and Mexico, is intended for “the participating athletes, coaches, officials, journalists, host city and public”, and urges them to behave in a gentlemanly and fair manner in the race for the title.

Football For Hope Ambassador
Farina, who was invited by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter to participate in the recent FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2011, has also just been invited to serve as an Ambassador for FIFA’s Football for Hope programme.

In the letter of invite sent to the Italian, the head of world football’s governing body outlined the goals of the programme: “As well as developing the game and mobilizing the world with its tournaments, FIFA is also committed to building a better future for society through the Football for Hope movement.”

As a consequence, the work carried out by Farina, a shining example for those defending sportsmanship and honest play, could make a vital difference. As the FIFA President himself put it: “With this initiative, the Football for Hope Ambassadors play a fundamental role as spokespeople for the work we’re carrying out, helping to give it greater presence in society.”