Finish of Seventh Season of Football for Friendship in Madrid

The Seventh Season of the Gazprom International Children's Social Programme Football for Friendship ended. The final events took place in Madrid from May 28 to June 2. During the main event of the programme, the Football for Friendship World Championship, took place the training with the most nationalities. After the training, Football for Friendship received the official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® certificate.

More than 800 children and adults from Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America participated in the final events. More than 160 journalists of the leading national and international media covered the key events of the programme. The events of the Seventh Season visited the Gazprom Chairman of the Board of Directors Viktor Zubkov, legends of football Roberto Carlos, Marco Materazzi, Andrei Arshavin, Alexei Smertin, Dmitri Sychev, and Anatoliy Timoshchuk, the CEO of Soccer Barcelona Youth Academy Miquel Puig, UEFA Ambassadors Célia Šašić and Ricardo Carvalho, heads of football federations and associations of different countries.

"Football for Friendship is an absolutely unique programme, and kids from all over the world wish to join it. Uniting the sports and humanitarian elements, the project helps Young Participants develop their talents, choose their way in life, and become bright leaders. Not all Young Players who have trained on the fields of Football for Friendship will become professional athletes. But they will always have this unique experience they have received here: the experience of friendship, overcoming your own obstacles, and teamwork," says Real Madrid and Brazil Legend, World Cup winner and three-time UEFA Champions League Winner RobertoCarlos.

In the two-day International Friendship Camp on May 28-29, Young Ambassadors got acquainted with each other, studied the sports and humanitarian programmes, trained for the Football for Friendship World Championship. According to the results of the Open Draw, 12-year-old girls and boys from different countries and of different physical abilities were united in 32 International Teams of Friendship. The stars of sport and football players participants of previous seasons of the programme conducted training for the young athletes.

The International Football for Friendship Forum took place on May 30 in Madrid. This year the event united international experts and practicing specialists in the sphere of the development of youth and children football from around the world for the first time. Coaches of the national teams and professional football clubs, doctors of children teams, representatives of UEFA, football academies and federations of different countries, as well as sports stars discussed effective instruments of teaching young athletes and new methods of children football development, questions of developing leadership skills in the younger generation through teamwork.

In 2019, the programme opened a new direction of development by announcing the launch of the International Football for Friendship Coaches Academy. This free multi-language educational online platform includes a set of practical exercises aimed at improving the skills of youth teams' and football sections coaches, and P.E. teachers. The course was developed by the authors of educational programmes of Football for Friendship – heads of the teaching process and coaches of FC Barcelona academies, experts of FIFA humanitarian programmes.

The Football for Friendship World Championship traditionally became the main event of the programme. Qualifications, play-offs, quarter-, and semifinals took place on May 31. Within the framework of the qualification games, an open training uniting 57 athletes and admitted as the football training with the most nationalities in history. At the end of the training, Football for Friendship has received the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title. The Gazprom Chairman of the Board of Directors Viktor Zubkov was awarded the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® certificate by Anna Orford, the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® Adjudicator. He also congratulated Young Participants of Football for Friendship with the new global victory.

"Сolossal work was done, and thanks to that, today we have received such a high result by setting a new world record. This record was possible all because of the talent of the children, who train a lot and are great friends. It is very important for the kids of different nationalities to play on the same team. I would like to congratulate everyone once again with this amazing result," said Viktor Zubkov.

The Football for Friendship World Championship Final took place on June 1 on the UEFA Pitch in the very center of Madrid the Plaza Mayor square. Antiguan Racer International Team of Friendship played with Tasmanian Devil Team and won in the penalty shootout following a 1:1 draw during normal time. RobertoCarlos, Real Madrid and Brazil Legend, World Cup winner and three-time UEFA Champions League Winner, awarded the winners.

“We won thanks to the strong team spirit, because the level of training of the rival team was just as good. We didn’t know any of our teammates before we came to Madrid to the Seventh Season of Football for Friendship, but in two days of preparing for the Championship we became great friends. I am so happy we won, but I’m happy even more because I can share this victory with new friends. I am sure we will keep talking when we go home. This isn’t something you can forget!” says a member of the Antiguan Racer International Team of Friendship, Lejla Salihović Young Player from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The results of the vote of Young Participants for the most socially responsible football team were announced before the final game. The Nine Values Cup is a special award of the programme which was given to Liverpool FC. The trophy has been presented to football clubs of Barcelona (Spain), Bayern Munich (Germany), Al Wahda (Syria), Real Madrid (Spain), and the Brazil national football team. The Nine Values Cup was awarded to the Brazil national football team in March 2019 on the Dragao stadium in Porto (Portugal).

All participants of the final events of the Seventh Season visited the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final at Metropolitano stadium in Madrid.

All key events of Football for Friendship in Madrid were covered by Young Journalists. They worked at the International Children's Press Center creating news, reports, photo and video content. The materials were published in the programme's online newspaper.

The Seventh Season of the programme continued with the ecological initiative aimed at the promotion of the values of careful attitude and care towards nature. All International Teams of Friendship were named after rare animals. American writer Anna Wolde with create a fairy tale in support of the eco initiative. The main characters of the fairy tale will be the animals on the brink of extinction. Young Participants of the programme from around the world will translate the fairy tale into 30 languages. The premiere is scheduled for the summer of 2019.

The active events of the Seventh Season started on the International Day of Football and Friendship. On April 25, in schools and academies of more than 50 countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South Americas, took place meetings, training, and friendly matches with participation of Young Ambassadors and Coaches, famous football players and officials. More than 200 events with more than 40 000 participants took place within the framework of the International Football and Friendship Day.

"Thanks to Football for Friendship I've made many new friends all around the world. It is truly amazing to get the opportunity to get to know children from different countries, who love football as much as I do. The kids I met here are amazing. They are so active, kind, and smart. I am sure we will keep in touch when we go back home. Participating in the Football for Friendship World Championship helped me take my teamwork skills to another level. I hope next year I will be able to participate in the programme again," says Aykhan Alizada, Young Player from Azerbaijan.

"Football for Friendship carries out an important mission uniting talented children and teenagers from different countries. Participating in the programme helped me develop my talent and build confidence in the fact that I have something to tell the world. I am happy that every year my peers from all over the world have the opportunity to become part of Football for Friendship, learn something new and receive a unique experience that will help them grow. I am convinced that many of the participants of this season will start promoting the values of the programme when they come home, just like me, by creating their own projects. Football for Friendship inspires you to live actively, show initiative, and believe in yourself," says Young Journalist from India, Young Ambassador of Football for Friendship, Ananya Kamboj.

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The International Children’s Social Programme Football for Friendship has been implemented by Gazprom since 2013. The key values promoted by the programme's participants are friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour. Football for Friendship is supported by the UEFA, FIFA, International Olympic Committee, football federations of different countries, children’s international charity funds, famous athletes, and the leading football clubs of the world. For the previous seven seasons, the programme has brought more than 6 thousand participants together and acquired over 5 million followers including famous athletes, artists, and politicians.


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