The Summit took place at the Home of FIFA (www.FIFA.com) in Zurich on 25-26 October 2023; More than 100 FIFA Learners from 70 Member Associations graduated from the FIFA Safeguarding in Sport Diploma, including FIFA Council Member Johanna Wood; Summit brought together a wide group of football stakeholders in the world of safe sport.
The first-ever FIFA Safeguarding Summit has taken place in Zurich – recognising the inaugural group of more than 100 graduates who have successfully completed the two-year FIFA Safeguarding in Sport Diploma; as well as bringing together leaders, survivors, academics, officials and former professional players to share their experiences, knowledge and best practices.
The Summit was organised as FIFA continues its ongoing work and firm commitment through FIFA Guardians to safeguarding and making sure everyone, at every level of football has the right to play it without fear of abuse, harassment or exploitation.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino opened the Summit by delivering a video message to a full auditorium. As part of FIFA’s commitment to raising safeguarding standards in football through the FIFA Guardians programme (https://apo-opa.info/493qqJ3), the Safeguarding Summit had two key objectives which brought together leading experts from a wide spectrum of organisations from around the world, sports federations, public authorities and the six Confederations.
The first was a graduation ceremony for the FIFA Learners – from 70 Member Associations, six regional associations and two confederations – who have successfully completed the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma (https://apo-opa.info/4751M8X) and who are safeguarding focal points within their respective organisations. Graduates also included FIFA Council Member and President of New Zealand Football, Johanna Wood who in a short speech emphasised how this group must continue to provide each other with invaluable networks moving forward, as well as supporting members of their respective football communities.
Speaking of her experiences, and her reasons for joining the course, Johanna Wood said: “I think the key take-away for the graduates today is that they are a community that can support each other in their journeys of safeguarding within our football community.”
She continued: “My background is in education, and I’m very aware that we have to lead by example. We have to be role models. So, if we aren’t open to learning ourselves, prepared to take on new learning journeys – in this case the FIFA guardianship – then why would others do it? So, by role modelling, it gives others the confidence that we have some understanding of what they are doing on our behalf, and the leadership that they’re doing.”
The second objective of the Summit was to share safeguarding best practices and lessons learned. Safeguarding officers from FIFA member associations (MAs), global experts and representatives of various stakeholders in the world of safe sport – including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Council of Europe, FIFPPRO and Centre for Sport and Human Rights (CSHR) – sat alongside former international footballers and FIFA Head of Refereeing (Women), Kari Seitz across a myriad of panel discussions and presentations.
Marie-Laure Lemineur, FIFA Head of Safeguarding&Child Protection also presented latest updates from FIFA’s work in the safeguarding sphere, and reminded participants that systemic change will not happen overnight.
“Safeguarding is a marathon, it’s not a sprint” she said succinctly. “I’m convinced that FIFA has triggered awareness that football development is not only about football skills, but also includes a duty of care to protect those who are made vulnerable through their football activities.”
“The mandate of the department is to protect everyone, in all roles in the game. It can be a volunteer at a [FIFA Men’s or Women’s] World Cup who is bullied, or it could be a female referee who is sexually harassed. It can be anyone.”
Developed by FIFA and The Open University (OU) together with global safeguarding experts, practitioners and academics in the field, the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma is an open learning experience launched in January 2021.
The programme consists of five online courses primarily aimed at safeguarding officers at FIFA’s 211 member associations (“FIFA learners”). FIFA learners have access to dedicated webinars, moderated forums, interactive workshops and assessments that guide the learner through practical steps and examples of safeguarding best practice in sport.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FIFA.
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