Football’s governing body FIFA and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen their collaboration, with the aim of promoting sports integrity and social responsibility while furthering the development of football in the region.
The landmark agreement was signed by CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and FIFA President Gianni Infantino at a virtual ceremony attended by the presidents of the national football associations of CARICOM countries, Ministers of Government and Representatives of the countries, as well as CONCACAF’s President Victor Montagliani.
The MoU focuses on several key areas of collaboration, in particular the implementation of a football programme in the physical education curricula in primary schools in the CARICOM region. FIFA, together with its member associations, will provide support for the development of football training, competitions and the training of football coaches, officials and administrators along with physical education teachers.
Other key focus areas of the agreement include measures for the protection of children and vulnerable adults involved in football activities, the fight against match manipulation and the promotion of sports integrity and social responsibility.
“We are delighted to enter into this agreement with the Caribbean Community, the aim of which is to leverage our sport as a catalyst for social development in the region. Football has an incredible following in the Caribbean and there is still great potential for additional growth. I am very happy to see that the countries understand the opportunities this brings in terms of social benefits for their communities and we are looking forward to working hand in hand with them around this common goal,” Infantino said.
Infantino noted that FIFA had provided substantial assistance to the Football Associations of Member States of CARICOM to assist with the challenges posed by Covid-19 among other areas. He said he looked forward to working with CARICOM in ensuring that the game in the region was free of discrimination and safe for the children and youth to enjoy.
LaRocque said he very much welcomed the MOU and the partnership with FIFA.
“Many of our Member States have established developmental programmes using sports as a transformative agent. The social, health and economic benefits of sport are well appreciated and supported in our region. The partnership with organisations such as FIFA assists in furthering our goals of encouraging our youth, in particular, to pursue healthy lifestyles, positive use of leisure time, development of tolerance and the promotion of peace, while enjoying the benefits of a sport like football,” he stated.
The Secretary-General said the genesis of the project came with the visit by Infantino to the CARICOM Secretariat in 2017. He noted that the MOU aligns with CARICOM’s endorsement of sport as a development tool. He said that the universal popularity of football gave it a unique position to play its part in assisting with the development goals.
Montagliani described football as a unifying force that promoted social development which transcends all types of barriers to the benefit of world societies.
“The integrity of sport, and football in particular, in our region is a top priority for FIFA and CONCACAF, and I can only welcome this partnership signed today. It will benefit the whole Caribbean region and support us in our extensive efforts to develop the game at all levels,” Montagliani asserted.
In a statement during the ceremony, Barbados head coach and Caribbean legend Russell Latapy said: “I appreciate the efforts of FIFA and CARICOM to invest in football development because a safer environment for our children is also a safer environment for football across the board and everyone involved.”
The initiative is also expected to build on previous work by CARICOM, including “reducing youth on youth violence in schools and communities” and the “youth empowerment through sports” projects. (PR)