FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Football Unites The World

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Tournaments & Events

Football Unites The World

The Vision 2020-2023, as outlined by the FIFA President Gianni Infantino, rests on two cornerstones: not only to protect football’s positive values but to use its considerable influence to impact wider society. There was no more prominent illustration of that than when football united the world in Qatar.

When the words of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s strategic document The Vision 2020-2023 were first committed to paper, readers could hardly have credited how prescient they would be. The duty to protect and foster the sport’s core principles remains, and the importance of social impact in bringing people from all over the world together was arguably never more pressing than in 2022, as football came together for its most compact celebration in a polarised world emerging from the isolation occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Using the platform of a worldwide followership in excess of five billion, the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup™ emphasised football’s unifying powers, with a host of international icons coming together in a powerful video campaign. It was launched by FIFA President Infantino at the Executive Football Summit in Doha on the morning of the big kick-off and projected to fans in the stadiums and via an array of rights-holding broadcasters throughout the tournament.

Alisson Becker, Karim Benzema, Lucy Bronze, Didier Drogba, Giulia Gwinn, Kaká, Robert Lewandowski, Carli Lloyd, Édouard Mendy, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Emmanuel Petit and Cristiano Ronaldo all highlighted football’s unrivalled ability to bring people together. Qatar captain Hassan Al-Haydos appeared in the TV advert too and walked out to an expectant Al Bayt Stadium on the opening night sporting the armband of the campaign. His opposite number, Enner Valencia, showed his support for the message of togetherness, and the Ecuador skipper struck a double to earn a 2-0 win and plenty of worldwide coverage on the night.

FIFA President Infantino had predicted “a celebration of unity and passion for the game we love so much” when he announced the programme, as well as mentioning the successful implementation in Doha, where 1.9 million Hayya applications had been approved with the top five countries for visitors being: Saudi Arabia, India, the USA, the United Kingdom and Mexico.

“We have had an international atmosphere and a joyous atmosphere with football uniting the world,” said the FIFA President. “People have been coming together from all the different countries in one city, enjoying their time, maybe also [wanting] to forget some of their issues and [have] pleasure.”

FIFA Legends reflected on how they had experienced communities, societies and diverse groups of fans from all over the world coming together around the FIFA World Cup. Fans were also invited to share their experiences via social media throughout the month-long competition, which were celebrated in a further video compilation ahead of the thrilling finale at Lusail Stadium.

Under the “Football Unites the World” banner, FIFA also teamed up with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations World Food Programme to promote and highlight causes such as physical health, anti-discrimination, sustainability, education and ending child hunger. A number of these topics were featured among FIFA’s key social priorities throughout 2022 and awareness around them was raised during the FIFA World Cup.

No discrimination

FIFA’s drive against discrimination continued in 2022, in accordance with article 4 of the FIFA Statutes, which states that “discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, religion, political opinion or wealth, birth or sexual orientation is strictly prohibited”.

The advent of the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East, the Gulf region and the Arab world was an opportunity not only to reiterate what is unacceptable, but also to send a positive message of togetherness and understanding of what was to many visitors a new and rich culture.

The most-digitally experienced FIFA World Cup brought with it the perils of online hate and discriminatory discourse, highlighted in an independent report commissioned by FIFA and published on 18 June 2022 to coincide with the United Nations International Day for Countering Hate Speech.

The study highlighted the increasing levels of abuse directed at footballers and coaches during international tournaments, using artificial intelligence to track over 400,000 posts on social media platforms during the semi-final and final stages of two international competitions (UEFA EURO 2020 and CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2021). It identified that over 50% of players received some form of discriminatory abuse, with much of that coming from the players’ home nations.

Everyone has the right to health, and fighting stigma and discrimination whenever and wherever they appear is essential for realising that right.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO Director-General

In response, FIFA and FIFPRO joined forces to launch a dedicated in-tournament moderation service across men’s and women’s football that scans over 30,000 instances of recognised hate speech terms published to identify social media accounts and, once detected, prevents comments including them from being seen by the recipient and their followers.

The message took centre stage around the quarter-final matches of the FIFA World Cup, with national-team captains speaking out against discrimination in all its forms. The messages were shown on giant screens and posted on social media, as well as on LED boards in the stadium, reaching a global audience.

286,895 000,000

abusive or spam comments hidden on behalf of opted-in teams and players

14 00 million

comments scanned during the FIFA World Cup

4,908 0,000

social media users’ accounts flagged to law authorities for potential prosecution

Recognising the negative impact that discriminatory behaviour has on mental health, the WHO joined FIFA on the campaign, which was timed to mark International Human Rights Day.

“Stigma and discrimination can be extremely harmful to mental and physical health and can prevent people from accessing the health services they need,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “The WHO is proud to partner with FIFA on the ‘No Discrimination’ campaign.“

The healthiest FIFA World Cup ever

The FIFA-WHO partnership has grown ever stronger since the signing of the 2019 memorandum of understanding and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The two organisations have teamed up on a range of public awareness messages, and the State of Qatar – including representatives from the Qatar Ministry of Public Health and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy – agreed to use the FIFA World Cup as a platform to promote healthy lifestyles, as well as to protect the health of all involved in the first mega football tournament since COVID-19 emerged.

There was a commitment to providing healthy food options inside stadiums and fan zones, as well as the enhancing of tobacco prevention messaging in official tournament areas. Furthermore, there was a drive for fans – and youngsters, in particular – to #BeActive, considering that over 80% of children worldwide fail to take the hour of exercise each day needed for a healthy lifestyle.

The most visible means of reinforcing sports and health as a pathway to general health was the #BringTheMoves challenge, where children were invited to invent new goal celebrations and task their favourite players to replicate them on the global stage. As well as uploading these moves on social media and tagging their heroes, the project energised groups of fans from all 32 teams across the eight state-of-the-art stadiums at the FIFA World Cup.

Whilst the messaging ran throughout the year and was visible for the duration of the FIFA World Cup, it reached a peak around Universal Health Coverage Day on 12 December. Trinidadian-born artist The Mad Stuntman delivered a sensational performance of hit song I Like to Move It, which featured in the hero film of the campaign at the FIFA Fan Festival™. Further performances followed at the half-time shows at each of the FIFA World Cup semi-finals at both Lusail and Al Bayt Stadiums.

A number of players past and present got in on the act as well, including the oldest player ever to score in a FIFA World Cup finals. Cameroon’s Roger Milla’s silky moves at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ featured in the campaign launch video and, after receiving an award for his historic achievements in Italy 32 years earlier, Milla brought the moves in front of the cameras to show his backing for the project.

Save the Planet

FIFA’s dedication to ensuring a healthy planet was detailed in the unveiling of its Climate Strategy at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in 2021. In its policy, FIFA has committed to reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2040 through the continued incorporation of sustainable operations into the organisation’s daily business.

The WHO also deemed the climate crisis to be a health crisis, estimating that more than 13 million deaths around the world annually were due to avoidable environmental causes. Keeping the planet healthy by taking urgent action is not only a significant part of FIFA’s partnership with the WHO but also furthers FIFA’s overall aims to make a brighter future through football.

The messaging was associated with action throughout the year. On the day of the draw for the FIFA World Cup in Doha, FIFA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), a collaboration intended to raise awareness through football and drive climate change action, which is vital to the region and aligns with the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific 2017-2030.

The partnership with PIF focuses on education around climate change and fostering disaster resilience, including helping to develop advocacy strategies and boost community initiatives. The partnership creates synergies between the PIF’s work and FIFA Forward projects to lay football foundations across OFC member associations, particularly relevant with the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ to be played in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino fronted a campaign midway through the year, challenging football players and personalities from the sporting world and beyond to show a “Green Card for the Planet”. They in turn challenged others through a range of media to do their bit to make the future brighter.

The sustainability commitment manifested itself further in visibility through flags, LED boards and armbands bearing the “Save the Planet” slogan during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, reinforcing FIFA’s partnership with the host country during the final tournament to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme in FIFA World Cup history.

In addition to messaging to global audiences, FIFA Legend and ambassador Marcel Desailly led an operational video shown ahead of all 64 matches, asking fans to join him to “Make Recycling [Their] Goal”.

Supporting youngsters through football

FIFA used the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to support UNESCO’s mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development by projecting the "Education for All" campaign to viewers worldwide.

Football’s symbiotic relationship with education was echoed in development and learning programmes across the world throughout 2022. Education is a fundamental human right, yet many children are being deprived of access to quality education, with 244 million children still out of school and 70% of ten-year-olds unable to read and understand simple written text.

Football is a great tool for teaching values such as team spirit and respect, and for developing life skills such as self‑confidence.
Audrey Azoulay
UNESCO Director-General

Therefore, the FIFA World Cup was the stage to increase awareness of the extent of existing education poverty, a situation that worsened with the onset of the global pandemic in recent years. The theme not only echoes The Vision 2020-2023 but followed on from a series of Football for Schools projects launched during the year in all corners of the world, including a significant legacy project for Qatar.

One further rallying cry during the FIFA World Cup was that every child has the right to healthy food and to feel safe, and have their basic human needs met. FIFA’s alliance with the United Nations World Food Programme raised awareness with the tag line “Protect Children, End Hunger” being amplified around matches in the tournament, which took place in a year of unprecedented global hunger, with acute food shortages rising from 135 million to 345 million since 2019 and with many of those affected being children.

“Millions of children around the world are involved in football,” said President Infantino. “What these children all have in common is the right to enjoy football in a safe environment, in a culture of respect and understanding.”