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Press centre


Remarks of Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, at the FIFA Press Conference on Racism in Football

BERLIN, 28 June 2006 – Thank you so much for that introduction.  It is a great pleasure to be here at this conference on discrimination and racism, and an important opportunity to highlight our partnership with FIFA.

Let me extend strong thanks and appreciation to FIFA´s commitment to the world´s children…and for many years of partnership.

Both FIFA and UNICEF know that sport and development go hand-in-hand…and that it yields critical benefits for young people.

Sports builds bodies and minds, promotes public health and instills important values, such as teamwork, fairness, and communication.  It also teaches the importance of interdependence.

All of these concepts are at the heart of development.

Sports in general, and football in particular, provide an important platform for shaping young people.

If you ask almost any child or any young person who his or her heroes are, chances are that they are likely to name a sports star.

Great athletes can be powerful role models, both on the “pitch” and off.  This is why UNICEF is so grateful to have FIFA as a partner in the “Unite for Children, Unite for Peace” campaign.

The effort aims to promote non-violence, tolerance and peace, along with the benefits of sport for development. I commend FIFA for addressing the issues of racism and discrimination.

The attitudes and behaviours of children are shaped early in life and by the adults around them.  At their very heart, racism and discrimination involve demeaning and devaluing of other human beings, whether they are based on gender, race, disability or other characteristics.

They can lead to violence, war and in their most extreme forms, ethnic cleansing.  The simple game of football, celebrated in the World Cup, can break down barriers and bring people together.

While you might think there are 18 teams left in contention here at the World Cup, there is actually a 19th.  “Team UNICEF” is composed of 15 top players from 15 countries, all of whom support the “Unite for Children, Unite for Peace” campaign.

I might also mention that if it were an actual team, it would be one of the highest-scoring of the World Cup.

There are 11 other members of this team.  They are 11 children with stories about how they prevailed over violence and conflict through the power of football.  Those stories are told on the UNICEF website: www.unicef.org/football.

The world is indeed a very diverse place and football is a game that is played with many different styles and approaches.

But it is a game with a single set of rules that everyone must understand and abide by.  In life, there are also a set of rules – rules of civility, tolerance, non-violence and cooperation.  We at UNICEF are very proud of our FIFA partnership, and for facilitating this conference during the World Cup.

Thank you.

For more information:

Angela Hawke, UNICEF New York. Tel: (+1) 212 326 7269.
Email: ahawke@unicef.org




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