Fair play is at the very core of football, which is why FIFA is doing everything in its power to preserve it. Since 1997, Fair Play Days have been an annual event each autumn and this year they took place across the world from 5 to 9 September. Football's world governing body therefore asked all member associations, leagues and clubs to join forces both on and off the field in order to promote the spirit of fair play.

This was achieved in a variety of ways, such as through FIFA Fair Play flags and video clips in stadiums, as well as team captains speaking directly to fans to emphasise the importance of fair play.

But for the people in the front line - the players, coaches and directors - what exactly is fair play? FIFA.com went around the world to ask them what it means to them and why it is so important. Below is a selection of their replies, listed alphabetically.

Roda Antar, Lebanon, player for Shandong Luneng (China PR)
The key to fair play is that players learn to overcome racial, linguistic and cultural differences by playing together. In this way, whether you are African, Asian or European, you feel that you are judged on your qualities as a player, as long as you're playing well for the team. That's the beauty of fair play.

Joseph S. Blatter, Switzerland, FIFA President
Children and teenagers need to acquire firm values such as solidarity, tolerance, respect and discipline, all of which we defend and promote in our sport. Football teaches us valuable life lessons such as how to celebrate our victories together, but also how to accept defeat.

Yang Chen, China PR, former international
When a match is played in a spirit of fair play, everybody benefits. It helps create an atmosphere in which the players can display all their talent in a spirit of fairness, and thus fans can enjoy the game all the more. While the players' priority may be to achieve the best possible result, it is just as important to achieve it through fair play. This combination of striving for the best result whilst applying the rules of fair play is the very essence of sport.
Raymond Domenech, France, national team coach
Fair play is the best possible value to possess – it means that respect should be an integral part of football, at all levels: respect for opponents, team-mates, the referee, fans, and therefore yourself. This is essential, as without it the result would outweigh the pleasure of playing. Although it is very important, winning is not the only thing that counts at the end of the match; the feeling of having shared your passion for 90 minutes is just as significant.

Han Duan, China PR, player for Los Angeles Sol (USA)
Fair play is one of the core principles of any sport, including football. It’s such a vital part of the game that without it, competitive sport would descend into chaos. With this in mind, each player should spread the message, both on and off the field. I'm proud that fair play is still important in women’s football, as teams are not just competing for the winner's trophy, but also for the honour of winning the Fair Play Award.

Alain Giresse, France, coach of Gabon national team
For me, fair play means respect for the opposition, the referee and the Laws of the Game – that's the bedrock of all sport. Nowadays, there is a tendency to mix sport with other issues, but it must not be influenced by politics or religion. Fair play enables us to watch players who may share very different beliefs playing together in harmony.

Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, President of the Pakistan Football Association 
Fair play should always be at the forefront of football. It does not, however, only apply to players, it's a collaborative effort: referees must enforce the rules fairly, fans must respect both teams, and the media should praise gestures of fair play and condemn unsporting behaviour. But above all, coaches must assume their responsibilities and remind players of the importance of fair play and setting a good example, especially for young fans.

Jupp Heynckes, Germany, coach of Bayer Leverkusen
Fair play is extremely important in football. It means being honest at all times and respecting your opponents both on and off the pitch. English football is an excellent example of fair play in practice.

Miroslav Klose, Germany, international forward
(Editor's note: A few years ago, having been awarded a penalty in a vital match, Klose told the referee no foul had been committed). We really needed to win the match and in the end we did just that. The goalkeeper played the ball but the referee had been unsighted. He asked me if it was a penalty and I replied honestly. Young people look up to us so we must set an example. We must always play fair, even where the stakes are high.

Bob Latchford, England, former international forward
There's no doubt that football is a beautiful game, but for it to remain beautiful it must be played in the right spirit, and that’s why fair play is crucial.

Roland Marcenaro, Uruguay, national team coach 
Fair play means playing, enjoying yourself, defending well and scoring goals – in short, it's football's guiding principle. At one extreme you have red cards and all sorts of cheating, at the other, a soulless, lifeless and undignified team. In concrete terms, teams should not time-waste when ahead, for example. Young players should be taught as early as possible that "11 of us will step onto the field, and 11 of us will step off", especially in major competitions. Above and beyond refereeing errors and an opponent's aggressiveness, what really counts is the effort put in and the result, which is important at all levels.

Kate McShea, Australia, national team captain
Fair play and sportsmanship are important principles in any sport, but particularly in football due to its worldwide popularity.

Diego Monserrat, Uruguay, goalkeeper for national Beach Soccer team
For me, fair play is the way I approach each match, by respecting my opponents, whom I don't see as enemies and who allow us to be dignified in defeat and triumphant in victory. It is a principle that should be applied both to sport and life in general. A win-at-all-costs mentality must be avoided and emphasis must be placed on honesty and integrity rather than individual qualities and flaws, or defeat and success.

Lukas Podolski, Germany, international forward
Fair play is an integral part of football. That's why I behave myself out on the pitch.

Hassan Shehata, Egypt, national team coach
Fair play is an important ethical value which FIFA has managed to instil in our game for several years now. Many people encounter unfairness in their daily lives and it is important for them to be able to witness fair play in football, which is often a big part of their life.