FIFA President Gianni Infantino was in Paris on Friday, April 8 to sign an agreement between world football’s governing body and France. The objective of the agreement is to consolidate football’s place on the school curriculum. Infantino was hosted by Jean-Michel Blanquer, France’s Minister for National Education, Youth Affairs and Sport. Also in attendance at the signing of the agreement were French Football Association (FFF) President Noel Le Graet and Olivier Girault, the head of France’s National School Sports Union (UNSS).
The agreement was signed as part of the ambitious Football for Schools programme, which FIFA is running in collaboration with UNESCO and which aims to contribute to the development of millions of children and young people around the world by promoting the presence of football in the educational system.
There are three main elements to the programme:
▪ A free digital application (Football for Schools).
▪ An online learning platform featuring relevant educational content.
▪ The provision of equipment, including footballs.
“It is a pleasure to be here to sign this agreement between the French Government, the UNSS, the FFF and FIFA, one that will see us work together as a team in the most important match of all: the future and the education of our young people”, said Gianni Infantino.
The FIFA President then paid tribute to the secondary school students attending the event, from Cité Scolaire François Villon in Paris.
“We are proud that you are taking part in this Football for Schools programme, which is very important in our eyes, as we believe that sport can help make our girls and boys better people and instil them with values essential to their lives,” he said, before underlining the potential that football has in effectively conveying public health and prevention messages to young people.
“France is the first country in Europe to embrace Football for Schools, though we have no intention of teaching the French how to play football; you are the world champions after all,” he joked. “We do intend, though, to work with you in support of your outstanding efforts by making FIFA’s international experience and status available to you.”
“The place occupied by football at the UNSS has only grown and I am especially proud of the fact that it is growing among women,” said Olivier Girault. “There’s also futsal, a game that’s all about touch and which is such a vital breeding ground for football. I told President Infantino just how much FIFA is an incredible brand for all young students and that we really need to get that message out there as much as we can to encourage young boys and girls to join the UNSS.”
“The work you do is amazing,” commented Noel Le Graet. “Football and schools should work together even more closely. Thanks to this programme, schools will benefit from more human and material resources, and the French Football Association is thrilled that schools will embrace football even more, both as a sport and in an educational sense. This programme will allow our young people to play the game in ideal conditions.”
Taking his turn to speak, Jean-Michel Blanquer hailed the virtues of “a sport that is universal, easy to play, and brings people together, a sport that can lead the world in pursuit of objectives that are also shared with the French Republic and with schools: fraternity as well as liberty and equality”.
The minister added: “The fundamental values of football are team spirit and the pursuit of excellence. Football is a tool for encouraging children and young people to go to school. We want them to be healthy in spirit and in body and to go to school to express their full range of talents. In my view, what is happening here today is essential in that regard.”
Blanquer rounded off by saying: “This is a World Cup year and a year of other great sporting events. In a challenging world of wars and pandemics, the outlook is not always rosy. What sport does, however, is give us hope, peace and strength. That’s what this agreement tells us.”