Also present at the signing ceremony were Mr Lander Unzueta, General Director of Fundació Futbol Club Barcelona, Mr Luís Ramallo, President of the Spanish National Commission to UNESCO, Mr Agustí Colomines, Director of the UNESCO Centre in Catalonia, and Mr Hugo Portillo, Deputy Permanent Delegate of Spain to UNESCO.
The signing was followed by a press conference where the Director-General expressed his satisfaction with this partnership, the first of its kind between UNESCO and a football club. “We all realize today the global significance of sports as a vehicle for peace, dialogue and social cohesion. The practice of sport disregards both geographical borders and social classes, and it plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural and political contexts,” declared Mr Matsuura.
The Director-General emphasized that “this is a very promising agreement, because it is a multi-stakeholder partnership (FC Barcelona, Foundation FC Barcelona, UNESCO Centre in Catalonia, and the Spanish National Commission for UNESCO) and offers a major public-private platform to further promote ethics and values of tolerance in the field of sport and education.”
“Both UNESCO and FC Barcelona have a great deal of experience to share: through the work of its foundation, FC Barcelona has developed important social, cultural, educational and humanitarian activities in Catalonia and beyond,” underscored the Director-General. He continued: “UNESCO, for its part, is making every effort to advance on the international agenda the promotion of ethics and anti-doping in sports (through the 2005 International Convention against doping in sport, ratified today by 71 Member States, including Spain) and to promote the EFA goals through teacher and quality education, literacy, lifelong learning, fight against exclusion, racism and discrimination.”
Mr Matsuura went on to state that “this partnership, which paves the way for future common activities in the areas of ethics and anti-doping in sports, values and citizenship education, social inclusion and literacy in favour of disadvantaged children and youth, is therefore very timely.” “My hope is that we will succeed in reaching out to youth, mobilize funds for joint projects, and achieve what can be considered as a global development challenge,” he added.
For his part, President Laporta emphasized how the grounds for cooperation between UNESCO and FC Barcelona were very easy to reach, since both share the same goals with regard to contributing to peace and social integration, and assured FC Barcelona’s commitment to promoting ethics in sport and enhancing educational values.
In his closing remarks, the Director-General reiterated that “this is a major opportunity for UNESCO to make our priorities advance in the field of the struggle against racism, promotion of anti-doping, supporting disadvantaged children and, more importantly, moving forward the EFA goals by fighting exclusion and promoting teacher education and literacy.”