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WTO head hails football’s power to connect people

WTO head hails football’s power to connect people


The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has praised football's ability to bring people together during a question-and-answer session on the opening day of the WTO Public Forum alongside the FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

The encounter, at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, took place after FIFA and the WTO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where they agreed to look at ways of using football to promote economic inclusion, particularly in developing the WTO Director-General said.

“Everybody gets excited at football. It’s the ability to build this solidarity that is so fascinating to me.”
“Football is a big mover in terms of all kinds of goods and services, so it was about how we can harness the trade part of it? So, we began to talk about this and the desire of FIFA to help transform the lives of people in developing countries...how do we do things that can create more jobs and add value to products?” she said.

The FIFA President stressed that there are significant revenues being generated through professional football activities in Europe which accounts for 70% of that sector globally, meaning that there remains untapped resources elsewhere.

“(This) means there is a huge, huge potential in the rest of the world to still develop, to give every talent everywhere in the world a real chance, to bring a lot of hope and a lot of opportunities to many people around the world,” Gianni Infantino said.

“The only organisation which reinvests its revenues globally, in India, in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Chad, Benin, everywhere in the world, is FIFA and that is why we need to have more events in which FIFA is (involved) to promote football in the world,” the FIFA President added.

A key part of the partnership will be co-operation on the WTO’s cotton programme. Cotton is a particularly important source of livelihoods and export revenue in the “Cotton 4” (c4) countries - Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali - and FIFA and the WTO will look at ways to boost the sourcing of cotton used in sportswear from those nations.


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