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Fifth season of GAZPROM’s FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP international children’s project launched

16.03.2017. Hamburg, Germany. Today GAZPROM, official partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, announced the opening of the fifth season of the FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP (F4F) international children's social project. The event will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, from June 26 to July 3.

The project's geographical scope expanded considerably in 2017, with the number of participating countries doubling from 32 to 64. This year, Mexico and the U.S. will make their F4F debut. The project has thus brought together young footballers from four continents: Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas.

The fifth season will be held in a new format. Instead of representing football clubs from different countries, young players will be divided into eight international Friendship Teams.

The teams’ composition and the playing positions of the participants were determined today in a draw procedure. Individual player selection will take place at the Friendship Relay Race. The F4F International Organizing Committee will join efforts with national football federations to select young athletes for the 2017 competition. Eight-player teams will comprise boys and girls aged 12 to 14, including those with disabilities.

The draw procedure took place via an online conference. Taking part in the ceremony were young football coaches from Friendship Teams: Mikhail Babich (16, Russia), Rene Lampert (15, Slovenia), Stefan Maksimovic (15, Serbia), Felipe Soares (17, Portugal), Charlie Sui (12, China), Elvira Herzog (16, Switzerland), Igor Khritsyuk (14, Ukraine), and Brandon Shabani (15, UK), as well as F4F International Press Center representative Lilia Matsumoto (15, Japan).

“I took part in the 2016 season as a player. I consider myself extremely fortunate, as the project offers new opportunities to all of its young ambassadors. If I was 12, I would do whatever it takes to play the new season and kick the football with other kids!” said Rene Lampert, regular player of the junior team at the Maribor football club.

On April 25, the project will be joined by tens of thousands of children and adults celebrating the International Day of Football and Friendship. Each of them will wear a Friendship Bracelet, the official symbol of F4F, with blue and green threads interwoven to symbolize equality and healthy living.

On July 1, St. Petersburg will host the International FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP Tournament, bringing together players of different ethnicities, genders and physical capabilities.

July 2 will see the Fifth FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP International Children's Forum, which will allow youngsters to discuss with famous footballers and journalists how to promote the project’s values around the world.

The fifth season of the F4F project will conclude with a visit to the final match of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 at the St. Petersburg Stadium.

As usual, the International Children's Press Center will work throughout the season. Young journalists will cover all key events on equal terms with adult reporters.

“GAZPROM pursues global projects that look forward into the future, and the F4F project is closely aligned with that goal. In a mere four years, the number of participating countries grew eightfold. This year, St. Petersburg will host young footballers from as many as four continents. It means that the values of our social project are meaningful and relevant to children and teenagers all around the globe,” said Alexey Miller, Chairman of the GAZPROM Management Committee.

“GAZPROM’s initiative will give a voice to children from around the world and we wholeheartedly endorse the goals and key values of the F4F project. We are delighted to support the initiatives of the F4F Organizing Committee until the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” said Philippe Le Floc’h, FIFA’s Chief Commercial Officer.

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