Infantino: Health and well-being central to FIFA World Cup in Qatar

18 Oct 2021
  • Trilateral agreement announced between FIFA, WHO and State of Qatar

  • Didier Drogba backing campaign as new WHO Ambassador for Health and Sport

  • FIFA President applauds efforts to promote health at FIFA World Cup 2022

FIFA, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the State of Qatar today launched a new, lasting collaboration in a bid to make the 2022 FIFA World Cup synonymous with physical and mental health promotion, heralding it as having the potential to become an example to follow for future, mega sporting events. ‘Healthy FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ - Creating Legacy for Sport and Health’, announced at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, will undertake joint activities to place the promotion of healthy lives, health security and physical and mental wellbeing around the FIFA World Cup next year.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivered words of gratitude to both WHO and the State of Qatar for having committed to the trilateral partnership, in a bid to make next year’s finals in Qatar the healthiest FIFA World Cup, ever. “Our most iconic competition, the FIFA World Cup, will be held in just over a year’s time, in Qatar. Our ability to enjoy this banquet of games, however, depends on our health. “This tripartite partnership is a very important step, for FIFA, the World Health Organization and the State of Qatar, who have committed to making this not only the biggest, but also the safest World Cup ever. And, with the guidance of WHO, we look forward to shaping more initiatives, and developing new ways to ensure everyone enjoys every moment of the FIFA World Cup – and does so in an environment which promotes the integration of health, security, and well-being. “On behalf of FIFA, I am delighted to reinforce our support in helping to achieve shared objectives and look forward to this new partnership to come to fruition.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, extended his thanks to FIFA: “I am very grateful to Gianni Infantino and our friends at FIFA. Together we have joined in a range of joint initiatives to promote physical activity and mental health, and to advocate for public health measures and equitable health and other tools, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very pleased to further that relationship through this high-level statement of collaboration between Qatar, FIFA and WHO. “Our shared objective is to create a safe and healthy World Cup in Qatar next year, but also to create a legacy to show how major sporting events can be used to promote health and wellbeing.”

Didier Drogba and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Didier Drogba was also presented as the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Health and Sport. A former United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, focusing on development issues in Africa for almost 15 years, the Chelsea and Côte d'Ivoire legend said he was “filled with joy to rejoin the UN family”. “Throughout my life I have used my sport career to support vulnerable communities,” the former striker, who went to three World Cups, told the assembly. “That is why I set up the Didier Drogba Foundation, to provide financial and material support in health and education to the most vulnerable communities in Africa.

"But this is not enough for me. Many people do not have access to health services, while non-communicable diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and severe cancers are rising globally. “In this role, as the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Health and Sport, I am determined to work in partnership with WHO, FIFA, civil society, youth, private sectors and other stakeholders to reach out to as many football fans as possible."

H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

The main themes the project will focus on are supporting people to practice healthy lifestyles, including through physical activity, healthy diets and tobacco control; promoting health security, with a focus on ensuring mass gatherings and events are safe; and advocacy and awareness-raising for health. H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said creating a sustainable legacy was a key priority: “Since being awarded the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we have carefully considered the importance of leaving sustainable and transformative social legacies that improve lives – in Qatar, within our region, and around the world. With the experience of the pandemic, the importance of utilizing this platform to build awareness and improve public health has significantly increased. “This partnership with WHO will serve to elevate and enhance our existing efforts and contribute to ensuring that our region’s first FIFA World Cup maximizes its potential for social impact and serves as a benchmark for future events of a similar nature.”

Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari

Dr Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health, said: "The State of Qatar is proud to be the first country from the Middle East to host the FIFA World Cup. But our goal is not just to hold a successful sporting event – it is also to hold the healthiest sporting event possible. "It is for this reason we have teamed up with WHO. We look forward to working closely with WHO, FIFA and other partners on this new project to deliver a fantastic, healthy World Cup and leave a legacy that supports the staging of healthy, sustainable and safe mega sporting events in the future.”