St. Petersburg hosts Fifth Football for Friendship 2017 International Children’s Forum featuring young participants from 64 countries
Gazprom Football for Friendship 2017 International Children’s Forum organized by Gazprom, Official Partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, was held in St. Petersburg. The event was attended by more than 1,000 guests from 64 countries all over the world. Young participants of different genders, ethnic origins and physical capacities, journalists representing top international mass media, football stars, Olympic and Paralympic champions, FIFA legends, top management of FIFA, the Russian Olympic Committee and international children’s charity funds, and the heads of football federations took part in the Forum. The main values of the programme are peace, equality and a healthy lifestyle.
The fifth season of Football for Friendship was held in a new format and united participants from Europe, Asia, Africa, and South and North America. Following an open draw that took place at the start of the fifth season, young ambassadors were united into eight international Teams of Friendship and met together in St. Petersburg at the Gazprom F4F 2017 International Championship.
2017 was the first time when a Friendship Relay was organized. It was the national qualification phase for young football players and young journalists which took place in all the participating countries. The results and the names of the participants were announced on April 25, during the International Day of Football and Friendship, when hundreds of thousands of children and adults joined the event to bind the Friendship Bracelets, the official symbol of the programme.
During the fifth season of the Football for Friendship programme, Gazprom held the International Children’s Forum where young journalists covered the program’s events in their countries by preparing news and materials for the leading international sports mass media. Children were taking part in preparing materials for the Football for Friendship international TV channel, the international daily children’s newspaper, the official radio stations and posts for social networks. Materials were prepared in 43 languages. The final events of the fifth season of Gazprom Football for Friendship International Children’s Social Programme were covered by more than 2,000 journalists from all over the world.
In the lead-up to the Championship and the Forum, children and adults from all over the world took part in a three-day friendship camp in St. Petersburg, including football training sessions with young coaches, master classes by famous football players, game-based exercises by the School of 9 Values, and Olympic lessons that included speeches by heads and ambassadors of the Russian Olympic Committee.
Traditionally, all the young participants of the Football for Friendship Programme went together with new friends to the football match. Yesterday, they had the chance to support the national teams of Chile and Germany during the FIFA Confederations Cup Final that was held at the new Saint Petersburg Stadium.
“We launched a project where young football players are the key figures and this initiative has been supported by many sportsmen, media persons and civil society organizations. This year we saw a record number of 64 participating countries. It allowed children from all over the world to demonstrate their commitment to the ideas of equality and peace and become true Ambassadors of Football for Friendship,” said Viktor Zubkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom.
“We are glad to support this unique initiative from our FIFA partner Gazprom. The forum is a perfect example of how football can be used to open doors for girls and boys from all backgrounds, a mission that FIFA supports actively,” said Fatma Samoura, FIFA Secretary General.
Viktor Zubkov, Fatma Samoura, Brazilian footballer Julio Baptista, and FIFA CCO Philippe Le Floc’h
The Football for Friendship (F4F) international children's social project has been implemented by Gazprom since 2013.
The project is aimed at developing youth football and fostering tolerance and respect toward different cultures and ethnicities among children from across the world. The key values supported and promoted by the project's participants include friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honor.
The annual Football for Friendship International Children's Forum is the project’s most important event, bringing together young footballers from different countries who discuss worldwide promotion of the key values with media professionals and famous football players.
The F4F project has a special prize: the Nine Values Cup is a unique trophy awarded annually to a professional football club for the implementation of social initiatives based on the project’s values. The winner is chosen by young F4F ambassadors through a vote held in all countries participating in the project.
Thousands of participants join F4F every year. Since its inception, the project's geographical scope expanded considerably from 8 countries in 2013 to 64 in 2017. Hundreds of young athletes become ambassadors for the F4F movement and its values in their respective countries. The Friendship Bracelet, the official symbol of F4F, is worn by over 400,000 children and adults across the world, including well-known athletes and journalists, performers, political figures, and heads of state.
In 2017, the project’s participating countries are as follows: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
The fifth season of the project was held in a new format. Instead of representing football clubs from different countries, young players were united into eight international Friendship Teams. Eight-player teams were formed of 12-year-old boys and girls, including those with disabilities. The F4F International Organizing Committee joined efforts with national football federations to select the players (one representative from each country).