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Fifa's global ambitions

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Gordon Farquhar | 10:21 UK time, Tuesday, 25 August 2009

No-one in their right mind is going to try to argue against the aim of getting 75 million children into education when they are currently denied the opportunity. Of course not.

That outcome is the target of Fifa's 1Goal project, launched to a fanfare of publicity by bona fide royalty (and its footballing equivalent) at Wembley stadium last week.

Gary Lineker stood alongside Queen Rania of Jordan (the 75th most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes magazine) and hammered home the message that education should be a birthright.

They also emphasised that governments which had committed to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals should now make good on promises to give all children an education by 2015.

The 1Goal project is focused on next year's World Cup, so expect to see it promoted around the stadiums in South Africa and to hear its advocates - such as Britain's most cerebral footballer, David James - talk about why you should be signing up to support it.

onegoal595.jpgFifa's recent World Cup campaigns have targeted internal messages like combating racism in the game and promoting fair play. So this is a departure, reflecting the ambition of Fifa president Sepp Blatter to use football for more lofty aims.

In a recent magazine article, Blatter wrote: "Fifa is no longer merely an institution that runs our sport. It has now taken on a social, cultural, political and sporting dimension in the struggle to educate children and defeat poverty."

The ambition for football to put something back into Africa will be welcomed by critics who have accused the wealthier leagues and clubs of draining the continent of talent on the cheap, then having a moan when they have to release players for the Cup of Nations.

In making this departure, Fifa has joined an increasingly crowded marketplace of charitable efforts linked to sport. In just a few minutes, I found these charities, all connected to football with the broad aim of getting equipment to kids so they can play the game: Alive & Kicking; Ball For All; Footballs For Fun and Football 4 Africa.

Apart from the specific football-related efforts, there are already many charitable organisations specifically set up to help provide education in Africa.

Recently, the Beyond Sport initiative ran a global awards scheme for charitable and social projects.

They had to judge a colossal 269 entries from 80 countries, evidence that there are an awful lot of people out there trying to make things happen already. What concerns me is just how well joined up these projects are in terms of their direction and ambition.

In the UK, Sportsaid have tried for years to pull together the small donators and charitable projects under one roof to provide grants for up-and-coming sportsmen and women.

They will tell you it is no easy task to convince people to go through an umbrella organisation which helps cut out the bureaucracy and makes the cash work harder, usually because the individual organisations want to get at least some recognition or credit for what they do, leading to a lot of duplication of effort and waste.

We may have in this case to ignore the slight whiff of self aggrandisement to see the bigger picture. What Fifa can bring to the table to augment the work of the likes of Unicef and Oxfam is profile and reach.

Billions of people will get the message through the global stage of the World Cup. If enough sign up, then Fifa will be hoping sufficient momentum is created to hold governments to account through weight of numbers.

Pledges to educate every child have been made and the money, we are told, exists. What's needed now is the will to make it happen.....


  • Comment number 1.

    Who is the girl holding the child?

  • Comment number 2.

    It is a great idea and I want to know how can I be a help?

  • Comment number 3.

    I guess she's Queen Rania of Jordan...

  • Comment number 4.

    Queen of Jordan apparently.

  • Comment number 5.

    #1 You are a terrible man.

    I don't know, can someone tells us please?

  • Comment number 6.

    Kid looks like Caster Semanya!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Football truly unites the world and any initiative by the game will succeed.

  • Comment number 8.

    Maybe they can and maybe they cannot. But if FIFA's 1Goal Project puts 75 million Children into School will FIFA then be able to create 75 million jobs?

    Football - because of deliberate mismanagement - is costing the Taxpayer billions annually. It is time FIFA concentrated on righting its own house.

    The ruling party has just 'nationalized' Argentine Football with a US$155 million plus cash inflow for Television Rights which no TV Company wants! If this money had been put into Argentina's Education System .......? But then leave that up to FIFA!

  • Comment number 9.

    Who all are there in the pic (.... means fill up please)
    linekar, David james, Desailly,......, Clichy, kanu, Silvestre, ....., ......,.....

  • Comment number 10.

    Well however the king of jordan is he is a very lucky guy.

  • Comment number 11.

    Federerisbetter = another immature plank trying to be funny but only coming out sounding obnoxious.
    Sounds a great scheme though - it's about time football used its global appeal to give something back to the kids that worship the ground these footballers roll around on.
    Can't help but feel they have left unfinished business regarding kicking racism out of football though. There still seem to be a few ugly incidents in a small pockets of Europe. But that's another topic though so I'll leave that one be.
    Hope it proves successful!

  • Comment number 12.

    Good to see the EPL giving back to provide opportunities for kids here in Africa to succeed in life, and to be able to choose what to be in life.

    It also shows that life is not all about football-it's about sharing you get with the less fortunate, which is a good example to all other sporting associations, federations and leagues.

    I'm also happy to see Queen Rania there ( mclarenm23 she's a woman in her 30s!) she's one of my favourite women in the whole world, always willing to help the less fortunate.

  • Comment number 13.

    she's queen Rania of Jordan

  • Comment number 14.

    Queen Rania of Jordan is very easy on the eyes, looks like Lineker has the same idea lol

  • Comment number 15.

    Look at Gary the sly old fox checking out Queen Rania!!

  • Comment number 16.


    But great initiative - especially by the footballers aswell.. The Queen is known for such events, but nice to see the footballers are spending their 'hard earned millions' in a nice way!!

    Good stuff!

  • Comment number 17.

    i think people are being very small minded if they believe that football itself can bring people together. it does have a hell of a lot of positives, like in the first world war when the germans and the english stopped fighting for a game of football, but football has caused a lot of trouble in the past as well. does anybody remember the honduras-el salvador match?? a war was started because of the football match itself, and lets not forget the dinamo zagreb-crvena zvjezda game of 1990, many people saw that as the trigger to the balkans war. if the un want to unite people, football would be the wrong way to go about it, its too testosterone filled, maybe they should try something about sand castle building(!)???

  • Comment number 18.

    Sorry about the article, I got distracted by the woman and found out she is Queen Rania. I went Wikipedia to find some info about her, just curious about how she relates with football. She seems to be a very amazing woman.

  • Comment number 19.

    Everything that aims to help children out of a life of poverty can only be a good thing. I hope this scheme proves succcessful, but this is just the latest in a long line of initiatives. If they really want to make it work, FIFA could do worse than go and talk to Vivanne Senna (Ayrton's sister) and see what a marvellous job she has done for the children of Brazil over the last 15 years...

  • Comment number 20.

    If any organisation has the ability to unite all people in combating poverty then its FIFA. It could feasibly work if run properly

  • Comment number 21.

    Maybe there isn't a King of Jordan at the moment.

    Only kidding.

  • Comment number 22.

    Maybe Premiership footballers could start by donating half their weekly pay to charity. They could feed and educate an entire African nation if they did that.

    HA! Yeah right.

  • Comment number 23.

    Queen Raina could use her influence and ensure that kids in Jordan for starters are educated.

    Instead she floats around the world pretending to be charitable whilst her subjects are in abject poverty and poorly educated.

  • Comment number 24.

    Well I think this is a wonderful project - I'm proud of everyone involved.

    I think it's high time the rich football world started supporting non-sport-related projects, especially - as you have said - one that will benefit a region that has been taken advantage of by the richest parts of the football world.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Queen Rania of Jordan is very easy on the eyes"

    ...and Schwarzenegger in his day had a few pounds of muscle on him. That is a gorgeous woman

  • Comment number 26.

    Well, getting children into education is obviously a laudable goal, but for many (particularly in Africa, where 1Goal will evidently be heavily promoted) simple survival is more of an immediate priority.

    There is also the old question of management - at both ends of the money stream.

    Will FIFA be able to work effectively with a group of smaller organisations, as they apparently intend to, or will their education crusade end up getting lost among the myriad agendas of their partners?

    Also, how will the money be managed at the sharp end? Will it be given directly to the charities responsible for building schools, providing learning materials, recruiting teachers or whatever it is they are aiming to do?

    If its given to the governments of the countries they are operating in, there is a fair chance it will simply go to swell their coffers. The UN has already discovered that corruption is rife among a number of African governments and that any aid they send, be it material or monetary, simply "disappears".

    I hope FIFA, Queen Rania and the others succeed, but I have my doubts.

  • Comment number 27.

    Apparently, that is the Queen. Which brings to mind a quote from Mel Brooks: "It's good to be the king."

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Gordon,

    I suggest you check out Football for Hope, which is the name of the strategic alliance between FIFA and streetfootballworld (SFW). SFW is a global network of over 80 organizations in the Soccer for Social Change sector (sorry I'm American). Sport is increasingly recognized as a fantastic tool for reaching youth and implementing education, health and peace-building programs, among other social development initiatives. Here's a link to an article on their first forum held outside of Johannesburg, SA:

    I attended the forum representing (, as well as the Beyond Sport awards you mentioned as a shortlisted project. empowers underserved communities worldwide to build simple, safe soccer fields for youth. We have completed 5 projects in Guatemala to date.


  • Comment number 29.

    Children become the first and easy targets of disabilities arising from ignorance, superstition, exploitation, illness, poverty and disasters: both natural and man made.

    Combating the various deformities and the ensuing stigma can turn out to be a life long pre-occupation and trauma. Early and timely empowerment of the child through positive and constructive initiatives is certainly to be taken up on a war footing. FIFA though its multi-pronged efforts is sending the right and healthy signals.

    These young lives are the future of every country and our Planet. Bringing a ray of hope to the needy young lives is indeed a noble imperative. Education, nutrition, health care, environmental protection and saying ‘NO’ to child labour are issues that are to be taken up seriously by organizations and people of good will across the Planet.

    FIFA is gradually realizing the very many vital and sensitive things it can achieve as a more serious justification for its existence, well being and legacy. The world football governing body enjoys a rare privilege of being an organization that transcends all borders and frontiers. It’s mission is certainly much more than providing mere entertainment or pastime to lovers of Jogo Bonito.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho


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