Qatar, WHO, FIFA team up for ‘healthy and safe’ World Cup

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FIFA, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Qatar have partnered ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to use the mega football event as a tool to promote health and wellbeing.

The three-year joint project, titled “Healthy 2022 World Cup - Creating Legacy for Sport and Health,” aims to place the promotion of healthy lives, health security and physical and mental well-being at the heart of the world football’s pinnacle event, being held from November 21 to December 18 in the Gulf state next year.

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A critical goal of the project is to set and translate the best practices in health promotion, security and safety, as practiced at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, for use at major sporting events around the world.

“I would like to thank Minister Al Kuwari and the State of Qatar for teaming up with WHO to make the 2022 FIFA World Cup a role model for healthy sporting events,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghrebreyesus, WHO director-general. “WHO is committed to working with Qatar and FIFA to leverage the global power of football to help people lead the healthiest and safest lives possible.”

Tedros added: “As the Qatar tournament will be the first FIFA World Cup held during the pandemic, the event offers a unique opportunity to show how sport can promote health now and provide a lasting legacy for organizing healthy sporting events as the world recovers from the pandemic.”

The main themes the project will focus on are supporting people to practice healthy lifestyles, including through physical activity, healthy diets and tobacco cessation and control; promoting health security, with a focus on ensuring mass gatherings and events are safe; and advocacy and awareness-raising for health.

Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health, said: “The State of Qatar is proud to be the first country from the Middle East to host the FIFA World Cup. But our goal is not just to hold a successful sporting event – it is also to hold the healthiest sporting event possible. It is for this reason we have teamed up with WHO.”

“We look forward to working closely with WHO, FIFA and other partners on this new project to deliver a fantastic, healthy World Cup and leave a legacy that supports the staging of healthy, sustainable and safe mega sporting events in the future.”

Qatar was selected in 2010 to host the World Cup, the first ever Middle Eastern country to host the event. It will be the first FIFA World Cup to be held post-pandemic.

The tournament's official logo for the 2022 Qatar World Cup is seen on the Doha Tower, in Doha, Qatar, September 3, 2019.
The tournament's official logo for the 2022 Qatar World Cup is seen on the Doha Tower, in Doha, Qatar, September 3, 2019.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “In these past two years, FIFA and WHO have doubled our efforts to promote the importance of physical and mental health to millions of people everywhere, especially in light of the global challenges from COVID-19.”

“We are committed to working with the world of football, from elite players to grassroots teams, to advance the message of health for all.”

“WHO’s new project with Qatar aligns perfectly with FIFA’s collaboration with both sides. Working together, we will harness the power of sports as a catalyst for a safer and healthier world.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of physical activity for mental and physical health. According to the WHO, up to five million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active.

WHO statistics show that one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents, do not get enough physical activity. Globally this is estimated to cost $54 billion in direct health care and another $14 billion to lost productivity.

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