The Football For Hope Festival 2014 formally began today in Caju, Rio de Janeiro with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter opening the carnival of football. FIFA President Blatter talked exclusively with FIFA.com at the ceremony where he spoke of his admiration for those taking part, the legacy of the FIFA World Cup™ and the next step for FIFA’s social projects.
How does it feel to be in Caju at the opening of the Football For Hope Festival 2014?
It is the third time that we organise such an event and I think it is great. Speaking now here in Caju, this is stadium number 13. This is a World Cup stadium and today we have the inauguration of venue number 13. We have people from all around the world playing football, a special type of football. It is played in the spirit of fair play with no referees so it means there are no discussions. What is also special is that we are in a favela. This is great to introduce this type of event and to have a nice stadium that will remain. It’s a legacy for the people of Caju.
What can footballers from around the world and people watching learn from these children taking part?
What people in the world can learn is their Fair Play and that they play in mixed teams. Women’s football is one thing, men’s football is the other, but let them play together because it is their approach with the street football and whatever they do.
There are social problems all over the world, not just in Brazil. How do you feel knowing that Football For Hope is creating the conditions for social change for people from all around the world?
Football has no limits, no levels in society. Everybody can play and everybody can watch. In the stadia at the World Cup, you have a head of state and I can tell you when they are in football, they lose their identity and they are identical to all of the fans. Football brings people together, football connects people. To have the different countries of the world here, for this Football For Hope Festival, it’s great.
How can FIFA move forward with projects like Football For Hope?
In my opinion we should integrate all of these foundations. We should try to put them in the football pyramid. They should not remain alone and only invited for the World Cup. During the year we should make a step forward and invite all of these people to play in the 209 Member Associations. This would then be the legacy of football. Take them in and don’t isolate them. We should take them into the football community. That is the next step and I will do it, or at least I will give the incentive to do it.