The 7th season of the Football for Friendship (F4F) international children’s social programme organized by Gazprom concluded in Madrid. The final events of the project, which was carried out with support from FIFA, UEFA, and national football federations and associations, took place from May 28 through June 2 within the framework of the official programme of the UEFA Champions League Final. The Football for Friendship World Championship – the main sports event of the 7th season – earned the programme the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for Most Nationalities in a Football Training Session.
The F4F events in Madrid brought together more than 800 children and adults from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, as well as over 160 journalists from the leading national and international media companies. Girls and boys, including those with disabilities, took part in the programme as Young Footballers, Young Journalists, Young Coaches, and Young Referees.
The 7th season’s guests of honor included Viktor Zubkov, Chairman of the Gazprom Board of Directors, and Cyril Pellevat, official representative of the UEFA Foundation for Children. F4F participants talked to legendary footballers Roberto Carlos, Marco Materazzi, Andrey Arshavin, Alexey Smertin, Dmitry Sychev and Anatoly Timoshchuk, UEFA ambassadors Celia Sasic and Ricardo Carvalho, and heads of national football federations and associations from different countries.
On May 30, the Football for Friendship International Children’s Forum took place. For the first time in its history, the event united international experts and practicing specialists in the field of children’s and youth football from around the globe (in previous years, Young Footballers from different countries discussed the ways of adhering to the programme’s values on a global scale with media representatives and famous football players). Coaches of national teams and professional clubs, doctors from children’s teams, representatives of UEFA and various football academies and federations, and sports stars met at the Forum to talk about efficient training tools for young athletes and new methods of advancing children’s football, as well as the integration of F4F principles into training programmes.
During the Forum, the organizers announced the launch of the free-of-charge multilingual International Academy of Football for Friendship, a full-fledged online learning platform aimed at improving the skills of coaches teaching youth teams, sports groups and P.E. classes around the world. The training course was developed by teachers and coaches from the children’s academy of FC Barcelona and by the experts of UEFA’s humanitarian programmes. A number of practical video lessons were put together during the final F4F events in Madrid with the help from professional coaches and Young Footballers from different countries. The online platform is expected to be launched in June 2019.
On May 31, a football training session involving children of 57 nationalities was held as part of the qualifying games. The session proved to be one of the centerpieces of the 7th season, since it was recognized as the most multinational football training session in history. For that achievement, F4F won the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title. Viktor Zubkov received an official certificate confirming the record from Anna Orford, adjudicator of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS®.
Viktor Zubkov, Chairman of the Gazprom Board of Directors:
“As a result of extensive work, we have such an outstanding achievement today: we have broken a Guinness World Record. It is vital to have children of different nationalities playing on the same team. I would like to once more congratulate everyone on this wonderful achievement.”
On June 1, the main sports event of the programme – the Football for Friendship World Championship – took place in the very heart of Madrid, in the central square Plaza Mayor. First place and the winner title went to the Antiguan Racer team composed of Young Footballers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Iran, Italy, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. The winners received the cup from Roberto Carlos.
Roberto Carlos, FIFA World Cup winner and three-time UEFA Champions League winner:
“Football for Friendship is an absolutely unique programme, and kids from all over the world wish to join it. Uniting the sports and humanitarian parts, the project helps young participants develop their talents, choose their way in life, and become strong leaders. Not all of the Young Footballers who took part in F4F training sessions will become professional athletes. Nevertheless, the unique experience gained here will stay with them forever: making friends, pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones, working as a team.”
Prior to the final match, the most socially responsible football team was named based on a vote held among the young participants. The Nine Values Cup – the special trophy of F4F – was awarded to the Liverpool Football Club.
All participants in the final events of the 7th F4F season attended the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final, which took place at the Metropolitano Stadium.
The Football for Friendship (F4F) international children’s social programme has been implemented by Gazprom since 2013. The key values promoted by the project’s participants include friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honor. F4F is supported by UEFA, FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, football federations from different countries, international children’s charity foundations, sports stars, and the world’s leading football clubs. In the course of the past 7 seasons, the programme brought together more than 6,000 participants from 211 countries and regions, gaining over 5 million supporters, including famous athletes and artists.
The Nine Values Cup is given annually by young F4F ambassadors to a professional football club for the strongest commitment to the project’s values. Since 2015, the trophy has been awarded to such football clubs as Barcelona (Spain), Bayern (Germany), Al-Wahda (Syria), and Real Madrid (Spain), as well as to the Brazilian national football team.
Official web sources of F4F: