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Gazprom Football for Friendship 2018 will unite kids from 211 countries and regions

MOSCOW, February 15 – 2018 Football for Friendship (F4F) Open Draw was held today in Moscow. F4F is the International Children's Social programme implemented by Gazprom company - official partner of FIFA and the World Cup Russia 2018. The goal of the programme is to involve the young generation throughout the world in promoting the most important human values among their peers - friendship, equality, peace and respect for different cultures and nationalities. 211 countries and regions joined the Football for Friendship in 2018. The final events of the season will be held in Moscow, Russia, 8-15 June 2018.

32 International Friendship Teams were formed during the Open Draw, as well as playing roles for each young football player from each country (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder or striker) were determined. The teams are organized using the "football for friendship" principle - athletes of different nationalities, different genders and different physical abilities will play in one team. Age of players is 12. Each international team will be trained by young coaches - football players of 14-16 y.o. from different countries. More than 5000 media from around the world will cover the programme events, as well as the F4F International Children's Press Center, consisting of young 12-year-old journalists from 211 countries and regions. National selections of participants who will become young ambassadors of peace, friendship and equality in their countries have started all over the world.

These 32 teams will compete at the Football for Friendship World Championship on 12 June 2018. The next day after the tournament, young ambassadors will meet at the most important event — Football for Friendship International Children’s Forum, where they will discuss ways of promoting the programme’s key values across the globe.

During International Friendship Camp young players under the guidance of young coaches and under the supervision of famous players will be learning of 9 key values of the F4F programme in the Nine Values School. This initiative has already been recognized by the UN as an unique educational programme.

As ecological initiative of Football for Friendship all the 32 International Friendship Teams named after endangered animals of all the continents of the world. Young F4F ambassadors from different countries participated in the Open Draw ceremony: Zahar Badjuk (Russia), Runqi Cui (China), Juan Manuel Pinola Silveira (Uruguay), Lilya Matsumoto (Japan), Ananya Kamboj (India), Christopher Sowah Mensah (Ghana). The Chairman of the Board of Directors of PJSC GazpromMr. Victor Zubkov, FIFA Secretary GeneralMs. Fatma Samoura, Russian figure skater, Olympic championMs. Adelina Sotnikova, Two-time champion of Russia, European rugby champion in wheelchairsMr. Yuri Kamenets, the Legend of world footballMr.Marco van Basten addressed to the participants with the words of support for the programme Football for Friendship.

"The 6th season of the International children's social programme Football for Friendship is officially open. This year, F4F is supported by 211 countries and regions! For the very first time, young athletes from all parts of the world where football is played will meet on the same field. We live in an age where people all over the world seek to unite behind the principles of equality and respect for each other. The project is a crucial element in this process. Football for Friendship gives that opportunity to everyone," notes Viktor Zubkov.

"We were glad to support this unique initiative from our FIFA partner Gazprom," said Fatma Samoura. "The forum is a perfect example of how football can be used to open doors for girls and boys from all backgrounds, a mission that FIFA supports actively."

"When you dream of something, when you have a goal - you just do everything to achieve it. Of course, it requires dedication and you have to sacrifice a lot on your way. But when the goal is reached – it’s the best thing that can ever happen to you. And that is what happened for me. I think it’s a wonderful projects for kids, as it gives them a chance to experience a grown-up’s life, and reach their goals. I wish all the children the best of luck," - addressed the participants Adelina Sotnikova.

"I participated in this project last year in St. Petersburg, one of the host cities for the Confederations Cup. And I was so happy to see how children from various countries gathered together so well; there was a really good team spirit,” notes Yuri Kamenets. "There are many formats of football - a Paralympic one, for people with sight or hearing problems, also for people with cerebral palsy. Football is for everyone, people in wheelchairs play it too. Nothing can stop someone’s love of the game. I can do it - football is for everyone, just go for it".

"Participating in the International Children's social programme Gazprom Football for Friendship, you will meet friends from all over the world, learn more about equality and fairness - values that are very important for FIFA. The final events of the Sixth season will be held in Moscow during the World Cup Russia 2018.I hope to meet you there and wish you the best of luck," - said Marco van Basten.

"I am happy that more and more children from different countries join the Football for Friendship. This programme gave me the opportunity to find new friends from all over the world. Equality, Peace and Friendship are the main values that we talk about with peers and with adults. We really can change the world for the better. I really believe in it. said the young ambassador of the programme Football for Friendship,” - said Juan Manuel Pinola Silveira (Uruguay, 12 y.o.).

The video version of the Open Draw is available on the F4F official Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/FOOTBALL4FRIENDSHIP .

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