July 3, 2017, Monday. St Petersburg.The 5th International Children’s Forum Football for Friendship was held as part of a Social Initiative by PAO Gazprom, the official partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The event was attended by more than 1,000 guests from 64 countries of the world, young participants of different genders, ethnic origins and physical capacities, journalists representing top international mass media, football stars, Olympic and Paralympic Champions, Confederations Cup 2017 Ambassadors, top head officers of FIFA, the International Olympic Committee and international children’s charity funds, and the heads of football federations. The main values of the program include peace, equality and healthy living.

The fifth season of Football for Friendship was held in a new format that united participants from Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America. Following the draw that took place at the beginning of the season, the young ambassadors formed eight international Friendship Teams that met in Saint Petersburg (Russia) during the finals of the International Friendship Football Championship.

In 2017, the Friendship Relay Race, the national qualification phase for young football players and journalists took place in all the member countries. The results and the names of the participants were announced on April 25, the International Day of Football and Friendship, when hundreds of thousands of children and adults joined the program participants and tied Friendship Bracelets onto each other’s arms, the official symbol of the program.

During the fifth season, the Football for Friendship program included International Children’s Press Center where young journalists covered the program events in their countries by preparing the news and materials for the leading international sports mass media, taking part in preparing materials for Football for Friendship international TV channel, the international children’s newspaper, the official radio stations and programs for children’s Internet resources. Materials were prepared in 43 languages. Finals of Football for Friendship International Children’s Social Program were covered by 2,000 journalists from all over the world.

At the Championship and Forum preparation stage, both children and adults from all over the world took part in a three-day sports and education camp held in Saint Petersburg that included football training sessions held by young coaches, master classes by world football stars, play tasks by the School of 9 Values, and the Olympic lessons that included speeches by heads and ambassadors of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Traditionally, all the young participants of the Gazprom’s International Children’s Social Program finals attend the football match. This year they supported the national teams of Portugal and Germany during the cup-final of the FIFA Confederations Cup that was held at the new Saint Petersburg Arena Stadium.

In the words of Victor Zubkov (Russia), Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom, “We launched a project with young football players being the key figures and this was supported by many sport performers, media persons and civil society organizations. This year we saw a record number of 64 participating countries. This made it possible for children from all over the world to demonstrate their commitment to the ideas of equality and piece acting, as a matter of fact, as Ambassadors of Friendship.”

As Philippe Le Floc, FIFA Chief Commercial Officer, said “We are glad to support this unique Gazprom initiative that makes it possible for children from all over the world to be heard through football as a communication platform. We believe ‘Football for Friendship’ to be a successful project in different countries and we wish its geography to expand.”