In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the 6th of April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace to celebrate the contribution of sports and physical activity to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world. Spearheaded by the non-profit organisation Peace and Sport and on the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee, the date has been inserted in the official UN calendar of international days and is being celebrated for the first time today.
As football’s world governing body, FIFA commemorates this day and the power of football to contribute to human development and peace-building. In his video message, FIFA President Blatter stated that he “firmly believe[s] in the power of football to inspire people, build bridges and change lives. Our sport has a truly global reach and offers unparalleled opportunities to communicate with people from all nations and backgrounds across the world, and demonstrates that even in the most difficult settings, such as Afghanistan or Somalia, football can bring hope.”
This year, FIFA announced that its direct financial support through numerous football development programmes has reached the milestone USD 1 billion mark. Since the inception of these programmes, FIFA’s 209 member associations and six confederations have received a total of USD 778 million and USD 331 million respectively. The funds have mainly been used for infrastructure projects, planning and administration, technical development, men’s and women’s domestic competitions and youth football.
In a joint initiative with the Nobel Peace Centre, FIFA launched the “Handshake for Peace”, requiring sporting opponents to shake hands in the name of peace after the match, no matter the outcome. The campaign will be implemented during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and aims to link the universality and power of football with a simple gesture that is intended to provide a strong sense of goodwill, respect and peace across society as a whole.
FIFA President Blatter concluded by expressing FIFA’s ongoing commitment to contributing to the ideals of development and peace in pursuit of its mission of developing football everywhere, touching the world through its inspiring tournaments, and building a better future for all.