President and Vice-President of F.C. Internazionale Milano,
Mr. Special Envoy,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a great honour for me and I feel very proud to welcome you all to today’s event on the power of sport to change the world social and on its developmental and social value, in connections with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. This event features the exceptional participation of the full team and the top management of F. C. Internazionale Milano, one of our best renowned and internationally successful football teams ever. The fact that I myself am a staunch supporter of Inter adds up of course to the speciality of the event.
However, as you all know, Inter has also a longstanding tradition in social and development cooperation projects and international activities, operating in a large number of countries through its Inter Campus Project with the objective of letting needy children have the right to play and employing the powerful instrument of football for social and humanitarian purposes, in order to strengthen social bounds and help those realities keep the local values and tradition.
This exactly what makes Inter, in my view, a global sport actor with a strong Social Responsibility, and what has made more broadly football in the last 150 years – although I proudly want to recall that a prodromic kind of football was already played in the Renaissance Italy – a universal phenomenon, one that goes the much beyond the sports’ dimensions, as it connects people with their souls and culture, spurs feelings of belonging to the local reality and has drawn populations closer better that, at times, diplomacy has managed to do.
This is also the reason why we asked Mr. Alhendawi, Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth, to take part in this event, as the crucial added value of sports lies in young people who are mostly its main actor as well as the engine for those values to be spread around the world.
Against this backdrop, Italy, as in its capacity as co-Chair of the Group of Friends of Sport for Development and Peace, has always been a key-supporter of the contribution of sports to the attainment of SDGs, to each one of which sport, and I believe specifically football, can be linked. Just to quote a couple:
Sport can be used as a means to teach and practice transferable social, employment and life skills that can lead to well-being, economic participation, productivity and resilience (Goal n.1: “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”); Physical activity and sport are key components of active lifestyles and mental well-being; they can contribute to prevent risks such as non-communicable diseases, as well as serve as a tool for education on sexual, reproductive and other health issues (Goal n.3:”Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all age”).
The promotion of sport is, to conclude, intimately connected with the wider mandate and agenda of the UN, and has always enjoyed the full support of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who once said, “Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the walls, all the barriers” and who has honoured us with his presence at last night’s football match. Italy will continue along this path of treasuring sport and football as peace, prosperity and wellbeing tool and hope you will all enjoy this exceptional and unique event.