The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the world football’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to step up their joint cooperation to address threats to sport posed by crime.
The MoU, which was signed at UNODC’s Vienna-based headquarters by UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly and FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the ‘Tackling Corruption and Crime in and through Sport’ event, also pledges to consider ways in which football can be used as a vehicle to strengthen youth resilience to crime and substance use through the provision of life-skills training.
“Sports support the development of children and youth, and we need sports more than ever in the COVID-19 recovery to make people healthier and happier, and bring jobs back. But in order to harness the power of sports we need to protect sports integrity,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly.
“I believe that FIFA, the international governing body of football, the world’s game, and the United Nations, the world’s organization, make formidable allies, and I am very pleased that UNODC and FIFA have joined forces by signing this Memorandum of Understanding to safeguard football and sporting events from corruption, promote youth crime prevention, and keep children and young athletes safe from violence and exploitation.”
“Since 2016, the new FIFA has taken significant strides in relation to good governance and in the area of football integrity, including the fight against match manipulation and safeguarding of children in football,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
“Today’s signature of the Memorandum of Understanding with UNODC is a milestone for the organisation and underlines the absolute commitment of the new FIFA and myself to a zero tolerance policy on corruption in football: never again! It also shows our commitment to put football at the service of society and to use it as a tool to support the achievement of public policy objectives and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“We are proud to have a partner like UNODC as we strive to strengthen further the integrity of football and to use the unique power of the beautiful game to promote values and life skills to foster youth development and crime prevention.”
The signing of the MoU comes amid intensified efforts to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on sport and a commitment to help football to recover from the crisis both in the short term and while the world adjusts to the ‘new normal’.
Against this backdrop, discussions between the two organizations focused on several key areas of collaboration, including child safeguarding and the protection of vulnerable youth in football, anti-match manipulation and anti-corruption, the legacy of major football competitions, life skills development, anti-discrimination, and social inclusion through football in the context of youth crime prevention.
The main aim of the event was to raise awareness among Vienna-based delegates of Members States about efforts to address these issues, football’s value as a vehicle to prevent youth crime and drug abuse; as well as also how it can be used as a vehicle for economic and social development.
Speakers at the event included the representatives of Australia, New Zealand, Russian Federation and Qatar; all of whom highlighted the efforts of their respective Governments in these areas.
The MoU foresees cooperation between UNODC and FIFA in a number of areas, including technical assistance and capacity building, policy coordination and awareness raising, and development of studies, training material and guidelines. Thanks to the new landmark agreement, UNODC and FIFA will focus their efforts on five broad areas of work:
- Supporting capacity building and training programmes in the field of combatting and preventing the manipulation of sporting events;
- Supporting the joint work related to good governance, the promotion of integrity and safeguarding of sporting events and organisations from corruption and abuse of power (e.g. effective control systems);
- Supporting the use of sport as a tool for youth development, crime prevention and substance use prevention, including through the provision of life skills training;
- Exchanging information and expertise with regard to preventing corruption in sport, and in particular competition manipulation (e.g. participation in conferences, regular meetings, contribution to studies); and
- Developing technical tools and publications.
UNODC also agreed to participate in a consultation process launched by FIFA that includes sports organisations, intergovernmental authorities, governments and specialist agencies with the objective of establishing an independent, multi-sports, multi-agency international entity to investigate abuse cases in sports. The remit of such an organisation would include the:
- Establishment of trusted reporting lines;
- Formation of a global pool of experts, that can be promptly mobilised to provide specialist case management and care support to victims, witnesses and whistleblowers, locally;
- Standardisation of sanctions and disciplinary measures; and
- Establishment of screening processes to ensure that perpetrators cannot move from one region to another, between different sports, nor escape justice.