FIFA President Gianni Infantino has claimed football can help solve many of the world’s problems during an address to the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires.
In what was the first address ever given by a FIFA President at the G20, Infantino laid out the five reasons why football can help create “fair and sustainable development that promotes inclusion” worldwide.
“Football can be your partner,” he said.
“Firstly, because football means economic growth.
“Over the past decade, the football industry has grown twice as fast as the global economy in a time of economic crisis.
“With gross output of $200 billion (£157 billion/€177 billion) and gross value added of $130 billion (£102 billion/€114.5 billion), the football economy is equivalent to a medium-large country.
“Seventy per cent of the global football economy is generated in Europe,”
“So just imagine the incredible potential worldwide, if we take the right decisions.”
Infantino, who congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Summit on staging the “best World Cup ever”, also claimed that football can help improve global education and health.
“Academic research shows that when football is part of the school curriculum, absenteeism goes down and student engagement goes up,” he said.
The former UEFA general secretary, who became FIFA President in 2016, revealed the body would launch a “Football for Schools” project in 2019.
“We are investing $100 million (£78million/€88 million), offering an online digital platform for schools and distributing 11 million balls to as many schools as possible around the globe, reaching more than 700 million children,” he told the Summit.
Infantino added that encouraging participation in football at a young age can help inspire continued activity at an older age, while the sport can also help improve gender equality and integrate communities together.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia opened its stadiums to women,” he said.
“In India and in several African countries, football clinics that also address violence against women have led to dramatic improvements in attitudes towards women and girls.
“Football can bring us together and make the world a more prosperous, educated, equal and, perhaps even, peaceful place.
“These are also the priorities of world leaders, and FIFA is honoured to be a credible and reliable partner for them.”