SECRETARY-GENERAL ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN UNITED NATIONS AND FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION19990618
Says FIFA Has Agreed to Fly UN Flag at All World Cup Games
Following is the text of remarks made today at Headquarters by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a press conference marking a cooperative relationship between the United Nations and the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA):
I am very pleased to announce today a new partnership between the only truly global organization -- the United Nations, and the only truly global sport -- football. This is a great match-up. Between us, we have a global audience. It is high time that we joined forces to bring together our two missions to the benefit and the delight of all the world's peoples.
We only need to think back on last year's World Cup in France to marvel at the glory and the excitement of football -- the world's game. And we all look forward to the women's World Cup starting tomorrow right here in New York. I'll be there.
Only football is as universal in scope and participation as the United Nations. In which other human endeavour can one see men and women of all races, nationalities, backgrounds and languages unite as a single force, equal in skill, determination and pursuit of excellence?
I believe the diversity of football is its greatest virtue, and the promotion of such diversity and harmony is the highest goal of the United Nations.
That is why I am pleased to note that, just as our work includes an ever-growing number of organizations and groups, so, too, the game of football is being played by greater and greater numbers of people who only recently were introduced to it. Indeed, it's no longer a boy's game.- 2 - Press Release SG/SM/7036 18 June 1999
I myself was an avid football player through college, and I am still an ardent football fan. I have often said that we as an Organization and as a world should work like a football team -- tapping many skills, including all sizes and colours, and inspiring others through our teamwork and spirit of excellence.
As Secretary-General, I might be thought of as captain of the team. More often, however, I feel like the goalie having to make last-second saves rather than seeing the team follow my lead.
But as you know well, we all have to play different roles to achieve common aims. That is why we at the United Nations have welcomed FIFA's participation in many of our programmes -- from racial and gender equality to health, development, education, and the rights of children. And that is why FIFA has agreed to fly the United Nations flag at all World Cup Games, beginning with the Women's World Cup series that I will be opening tomorrow.
FIFA has also been sending thousands of footballs to the Kosovar refugees, helping to give them, and particularly the children, some respite from the misery they have suffered. I hope FIFA will be able to expand this wonderful programme to children in need all over the world.
This meeting is a great idea whose time had truly come. I look forward to "extra-time" -- to the many more opportunities to pool our efforts, and to help ensure a better, more joyful future for all the children and youth of the world. Even those who don't play football -- yet.
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