FIFA/CARICOM MoU: “A watershed moment,” says Forde

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By Avenash Ramzan

“A watershed moment.”

That’s how President of the Guyana Football Federation, Wayne Forde, described the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between football’s world governing body FIFA and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Monday (May 31, 2021).

The MoU is geared to strengthen collaboration between the two sides, with the aim of promoting sports integrity and social responsibility while furthering the development of football in the region.

“Today’s MoU signing is truly a watershed moment for Football development across the Caribbean Region,” Forde told News Room Sport in an invited comment on Monday evening.

“To us, Football is much more than a game and I believe CARICOM is uniquely positioned to enable football to play a broader role in shaping young lives and building communities across our region.”

The landmark agreement was signed by CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and FIFA President Gianni Infantino at a Virtual ceremony attended by the presidents of the national football associations of CARICOM countries, Ministers of Government and Representatives of the countries, as well as Concacaf President Victor Montagliani.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque during the FIFA and CARICOM MoU signing at the Home of FIFA on May 31, 2021 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by FIFA)

Forde added: “I am very excited about the many bold initiatives this partnership will create in the coming years. I would therefore like to commend President Infantino and Ambassador LaRocque for following through on a commitment made in 2017.”

The MoU focuses on several key areas of collaboration, in particular the implementation of a football programme in the physical education curricula in primary schools in the CARICOM region.

FIFA, together with its member associations, will provide support for the development of football training, competitions and the training of football coaches, officials and administrators along with physical education teachers.

Other key focus areas of the agreement include measures for the protection of children and vulnerable adults involved in football activities, the fight against match manipulation and the promotion of sports integrity and social responsibility.

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In a FIFA release after the signing of the MoU, President Gianni Infantino said: “We are delighted to enter into this agreement with the Caribbean Community, the aim of which is to leverage our sport as a catalyst for social development in the region. Football has an incredible following in the Caribbean and there is still great potential for additional growth. I am very happy to see that the countries understand the opportunities this brings in terms of social benefits for their communities and we are looking forward to working hand in hand with them around this common goal.”

CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said: “I very much welcome this MOU and the partnership with FIFA. Many of our Member States have established developmental programmes using sports as a transformative agent. The social, health and economic benefits of sport is well appreciated and supported in our Region. The partnership with organisations such as FIFA assists in furthering our goals of encouraging our youth, in particular, to pursue healthy lifestyles while enjoying the benefits of a sport like football.”

Concacaf President and FIFA Vice-President, Victor Montagliani, commented: “The integrity of sport, and football in particular, in our region is a top priority for FIFA and Concacaf, and I can only welcome this partnership signed today. It will benefit the whole Caribbean region and support us in our extensive efforts to develop the game at all levels. Football is a unifying force that promotes social development, transcending all types of barriers, to the benefit of our societies.”

In a statement during the ceremony, Barbados Head Coach and FIFA Legend Russell Latapy said: “I appreciate the efforts of FIFA and CARICOM to invest in football development because a safer environment for our children is also a safer environment for football across the board and everyone involved.”

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