Speaking at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters, he began: “The report is proof of football’s power for social inclusion and integration and provides recommendations for action that can be easily taken. We are very proud of our work with football clubs, as they enable us to reach out to audiences we wouldn’t normally be able to as an inter-governmental organisation.”
This notion of the beautiful game’s ability to connect with and influence the masses was developed further by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who went on to outline the fundamental social values that the sport has to offer.
“Football is played, watched and loved by men and women across the world and is much more than a sport. It embodies the best of humanity and has the unique power to bring people together, creating respect and tolerance in the process.
“Unfortunately we have witnessed episodes of discrimination and intolerance, both at international matches and on local playing fields. This is simply unacceptable. Fighting racism and discrimination has been at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate for 70 years.
“We believe football carries benefits far beyond the grounds of stadia. It is the world’s most diverse sport, rigorously meritocratic and driven by fair play and discipline. It can be an unparalleled vehicle for social inclusion, gender equality and youth empowerment.
“Doing so requires desire and unity. This is the spirit behind the co-operation between UNESCO and Juventus, one of the most decorated clubs in the world.”