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UN supports launch of the International Year of African Football to boost development

UN supports launch of the International Year of African Football to boost development

Counting down to the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa, and boosting the continent’s efforts to improve education and health through sport, the African Union (AU), South Africa and Ethiopia have nominated 2007 as the International Year of African Football, an initiative welcomed by the United Nations as part of its global drive linking sport with development.

The launch, which took place on Monday at the AU summit in Ethiopia, was also tied in to the 50th anniversary of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Director of the UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), Djibril Diallo, represented the sports-related activities of the agencies, funds and programmes of the UN at the historic event.

“The year 2007 will see a rolling programme of activities in AU Member States with a view to sharing the pride that a FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) global event will be held for the first time on this continent,” the UNOSDP said in a press release.

“The initiatives are meant to create a new consciousness with regard to the contribution of football, and sport in general, at the national level and in local communities to support AU programmes especially in the areas of education, health, development and peace.”

The day-long launch took place in the presence of Heads of State and Government and leaders of 53 Member States of the AU, and also in attendance were FIFA President Sepp Blatter, CAF President Isaa Hayatou, along with several famous African footballers.

Mr. Diallo met with South Africa’s Minister of Sport to discuss ways that UNOSDP can support the ministry’s efforts and those of the South African Local Organizing Committee to help promote activities related to the FIFA World Cup 2010. Initiatives will be launched in consultation with the AU through the various country offices of the UN in the next three years.

UNOSDP, which is headed by the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for Sport for Development and Peace Adolf Ogi, is the key UN body representing sport for development and peace on behalf of the UN system.