Football and the power of a handshake
23 Dec 2014
One hundred years ago on Christmas Day, soldiers in the First World War laid down their weapons to play football in no man’s land.
It was a remarkable gesture of humanity amid the squalid nightmare of trench warfare.
Today, FIFA remembers and pays tribute to those young men who shook hands and kicked a ball across the frozen earth.
Our social campaign with the Nobel Peace Center, the Handshake for Peace, has its roots in that day of calm in 1914, when hope and friendship triumphed briefly over war.
The Handshake for Peace campaign encourages players and officials to treat each other with respect and fairness in keeping with the traditional spirit of football. In turn, the campaign is intended to set an example to others and to promote peace and solidarity around the world.
FIFA believes football is a game for everyone that brings people of all walks of life and nations together; where all who play football are equals.
If soldiers on opposing sides in war can shake hands, today’s players – in the heat of their own battles on the pitch – can show each other a similar respect, regardless of the result of a match or any decisions that did not go their way.
Protecting and promoting this spirit of fair play and respect is essential for the future of football and a core duty of FIFA, as the global guardian of the game.
FIFA has made the Handshake for Peace an integral part of all of our international competitions. Players and officials shake hands and exchange Handshake for Peace pennants before and after each match.
The campaign was a success during the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil, where the Handshake for Peace and its message of hope was transmitted around the globe from the unique and powerful platform of the world’s biggest single-sport event.
The global football community will continue to embrace this campaign to encourage respect and solidarity within the game.
As those soldiers from the First World War showed us, the simple gesture of a handshake and the power of football can create a powerful symbol of peace and understanding today.