New York

09 June 2014

Remarks at "kick-off to the World Cup" event

Welcome to this UN kick-off to the World Cup!

I thank the Permanent Representative of Brazil, Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands, and the United Nations Department of Public Information for bringing us together.

The first game is not until Thursday, but the level of excitement is already high.  I suspect people are already adjusting their schedules in order to be in front of the television to see their teams perform.

I myself plan to watch as much as I can.  Some of you may know that I have played football from time to time, with some of the ambassadors here today.  I even broke my hand at one point.  I guess I have to stop trying to do that Pele-style bicycle kick!

Today’s gathering is an occasion to celebrate the best values of sport: teamwork, fair play and mutual respect.

Over the next month, hundreds of millions of people will be entertained and enthralled as we follow the action at venues across Brazil.

Regardless of the team we support, we will all be admiring the extraordinary feats of the world’s best players.

Sport has a unique ability to unite us, and to show us what we have in common.  There is no better testimony than today’s event.  What else can get ambassadors to shed their suits and ties and dress like this?!

To all the competing teams in Brazil, I wish you the very best.  Last year I had the honour of kicking off the ball at a Real Madrid match.  This year they won the Champion’s League.  I hope to bring all of your teams the same luck!

And to all the boys and girls here today, thanks for helping us to get the World Cup off to a high-spirited start.