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UN, FIFA urge football players, fans: Build peace

UN and FIFA chiefs urge football players, fans to build peace

Using the global language of football, players and fans everywhere should bridge religious, cultural and social divisions in the quest for peace and development, the chiefs of both the United Nations and the World Cup said today.

“Football is a global language. It can bridge social, cultural and religious divides,” UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Fédération Internationale of Football Association (FIFA) president Joseph Blatter said in a message welcoming the opening of FIFA’s World Cup this week.

Over the next few weeks, “as billions of people worldwide focus on the FIFA World Cup, we appeal to players and fans everywhere to support us in our mission. Let us harness the magic of football to our quest for development and peace,” they said.

In addition to bridging divisions, the game enhances personal development and growth, teaches teamwork and fair play, builds self-esteem and opens doors to new opportunities, which can contribute to the well-being of communities and countries, Mr. Annan and Mr. Blatter said.

“That is why the United Nations is using football as a tool in our work to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the set of powerful, people-centred objectives adopted by all countries as a blueprint for building a better world in the 21st century,” they said.

The United Nations is also using football to heal the emotional wounds of war among young people in refugee camps and in countries recovering from armed conflict, they said.

Mr. Annan and Mr. Blatter noted that at the UN General Assembly’s World Summit last year, all the world’s governments declared that “sports can foster peace and development, and can contribute to an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding.”

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