The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, arrived early this morning in São Paulo, Brazil, to attend the opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. “I’m very excited to be here,” the Secretary-General said. “Like billions of people around the world, I have loved football since I was a very young boy. This shared passion is a great demonstration of how sport can unite people around shared values: teamwork, fair play and mutual respect.”
Since the selection of the host country Brazil, the Secretary-General has been eagerly awaiting the start of one of the “greatest sport events in the world.”
The Secretary-General is confident that the host, Brazil, will do everything to stage a successful and peaceful event, harnessing the power of sport to bring together and unite people across the world. In particular, he looks forward to the unique way Brazil plays and celebrates the “beautiful game” and hopes that this joy will spread all across the globe.
Before heading to the Itaquera stadium, where the national teams of Brazil and Croatia will play the first match of the World Cup, the Secretary-General participated in a lunch offered by Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff for the foreign dignitaries who gathered in São Paulo for the occasion.
In Brazil, the United Nations is carrying out a number of projects and activities related to the World Cup. For instance, UNICEF launched a campaign against trafficking and exploitation of children; UNEP is awarding environmental-friendly hotels in Brazil with the “Green Passport” seal; UN Women is coordinating "O valente não é violento” (The brave is not violent), a campaign against violence against women – an initiative launched by the Secretary-General; UNAIDS and UNFPA are working to raise HIV awareness through their campaign Protect the Goal; and UNDP is assisting the Brazilian government in compensating the carbon footprint of the whole World Cup; among others.