FIFA president Gianni Infantino signed today, October 4, 2019, in Geneva, the memorandum of understanding with World Health Organization (WHO). FIFA believes the new partnership with the UN health agency is a “starting point” to help leverage the global appeal of soccer to improve health outcomes. Both organizations committed to a four-year collaboration that will promote healthy living through soccer globally.

“Half the world watched the 2018 World Cup”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the launch of the partnership. “This means there’s huge potential for us to team up to reach billions of people with information to help them live longer, healthier lives”.

Efforts to convince spectators to quit smoking will be ramped up as part of the collaboration between WHO and FIFA, who have already cooperated on anti-smoking campaigns, including at the 2018 World Cup. Over the four years, joint programs and initiatives involving national associations, players, and coaches will help get people moving through soccer-related activities.

“When you go to them and you take a ball like that, and you put the ball on the table,” Infantino said; while slamming a multicolored ball on the table, “and you say ‘today, we speak about this — about football — and by the way, you know that in order if you want to play football you need to eat healthy, you need to be careful of the sugar’: These are the projects that we are going to do together.” Infantino also suggested that poor turnout at stadiums at the world track and field championships in Doha was not a sign of things to come in 2022, insisting “they will be full at the football World Cup.”