On the eve of the opening of the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala reaffirmed their commitment to their partnership at a meeting in New York City.
FIFA and the WTO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in September 2022 to explore how best to use football to promote economic inclusion in developing countries with a focus on the WTO’s cotton programme, as well as regular high-level exchange and discussions.
Ahead of World Cotton Day on 4 October, Mr Infantino and Dr Okonjo-Iweala reflected on the success of the partnership and discussed ideas and approaches on how to define sustainable solutions in the cotton sector that drive development and opportunities for least-developed countries (LDCs) and women.
“I was pleased to meet World Trade Organization Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in New York to reaffirm our commitment to using football’s global appeal to promote economic inclusion in developing nations – particularly in relation to the Cotton 4 (plus) countries,” said Mr Infantino. “We specifically spoke about investigating football’s role in unlocking global economic growth potential and using it as a tool for women’s empowerment.”
The FIFA/WTO partnership is currently facilitating a framework analysis of the cotton industry in the Cotton 4 (plus) countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire and exploring opportunities to help boost the sourcing of cotton as well as value-added products used for sportswear from those nations. Production of cotton sustains 32 million growers worldwide with almost half of them women. The collaboration between FIFA and the WTO is working towards pulling the Cotton 4 (plus) more into the global cotton value chain.
Discussions also looked towards the future and potential next steps for the MoU.
“While discussing next steps in our partnership we considered the potential to integrate the FIFA Football For Schools programme, and we also reflected on the progress made through our positive collaboration to date,” added the FIFA President.
Mr Infantino and Dr Okonjo-Iweala also reviewed the ongoing joint academic study on the football economy and its global impacts. This study is investigating the economic impact of football and its role in unlocking global economic growth potential. It is also exploring options for the development of capacity-building activities that support the use of football as a tool for women’s empowerment, particularly in LDCs.