The kick-off meeting for the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the Council of Europe Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, took place at the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg on 6 March.
Discussions covered the assessment of the existing cooperation between the two organisations and further development of concrete projects on the three pillars of cooperation, namely safeguarding children in football, promoting integrity/ fighting match manipulation, as well as enhancing safety and security at football matches.
In particular, the working groups agreed on several next steps, including to:
- further jointly promote the Council of Europe’s “Start to Talk” initiative in order to raise awareness on child protection and safeguarding and to share good practice;
- make use of FIFA’s network of 211 member associations and the Council of Europe’s network of public authorities around the world to promote their common goals;
- jointly protect the integrity of sport through enhanced collaboration between FIFA and the Council of Europe’s “Group of Copenhagen” network of national platforms, monitoring tournaments for possible cases of match manipulation and information sharing;
- promote the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions and support the capacity-building angle of the related “Keep Crime out of Sport” project, which facilitates good practice exchange and delivers customized technical assistance;
- coordinate their activities regarding the implementation of projects on safety and security around the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, notably the Qatar 22 Project, which comprises the build-up of the necessary legal and regulatory framework and related capacity-building initiatives.
At the end of the workshop, FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer, Joyce Cook, thanked the Council of Europe for the excellent cooperation and stated: "This meeting signals a new era in the relationship between FIFA and the Council of Europe and it is a milestone in FIFA’s determination to join forces with international organisations and public authorities to face global challenges to the benefit of society through sports."
The Council of Europe’s Director General of Democracy, Snežana Marković, highlighted the importance of bringing sports authorities to the table: "It is a pleasure to welcome FIFA to the Palace of Europe as it is the first time that our two institutions join forces. It is our firm belief that only by working together can we really make a difference in the world of sport and society as a whole. We are determined to make sure that this Memorandum of Understanding is not an empty promise but leads to significant concrete actions."