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Soccer federation gains UN health agency’s top award for tobacco-free World Cup

Soccer federation gains UN health agency’s top award for tobacco-free World Cup

On the eve of the world’s most popular soccer tournament, the United Nations health agency will recognize the sport’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), for its efforts to control tobacco use, highlighted by the decision to declare the 2002 World Cup tobacco free.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) will present FIFA with its highest tobacco control prize – The Director-General’s Award – on 28 May during the 53rd FIFA Congress in Seoul. The honour is given to people and organizations that have shown exceptional courage and vision in tobacco control. Among past recipients are the King of Thailand, the current Foreign Minister of South Africa and the former Attorney General of the state of Minnesota in the United States.

“Sports and tobacco do not mix,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. “We have a common goal: that all sports are free from tobacco. FIFA’s decision to back our public cause is a significant step towards achieving this goal. The world’s biggest sporting event is now tobacco free.”

“Since 1986, FIFA and indeed the other sponsor companies have rejected tobacco companies from the pool of official sponsors of the World Cup or any other FIFA competition,” said Keith Cooper, FIFA Director of Communications. “That’s why FIFA has been very ready to work with WHO to see how we can use the World Cup to reflect modern knowledge and modern awareness of the dangers of tobacco use.”

The games kick off on 31 May, which has also been designated by WHO’s 191 Member States to mark World No Tobacco Day in an effort to raise worldwide awareness about tobacco control issues.

As part of an agreement between WHO and FIFA, there will be no tobacco advertising or promotion at World Cup venues and tobacco and tobacco products will not be sold at the games in the Republic of Korea or Japan.

Smoking will not be allowed in public areas, and specially designated smoking zones will be few and clearly demarcated, situated away from the general public to protect them from exposure to second-hand smoke. Frequent public announcements will inform and remind the public about the tobacco-free policy.

In addition, public service announcements on World No Tobacco Day and Tobacco Free Sports will be broadcast during the opening match. These spots will also be contained in the basic video material sent out to international broadcasters and will be aired all over the world.