Football for Friendship

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Football for Friendship (Russian: ФУТБОЛ ДЛЯ ДРУЖБЫ) is an annual International Children's social program implemented by Gazprom. The goal of the programme is to cultivate in the younger generation important values and interest in a healthy lifestyle through football.[1] Within the framework of the program, football players at the age of 12 from different countries[2] take part in the annual International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum, the Football for Friendship World Championship, the International Day of Football and Friendship.[3]

The global organiser of the program is AGT Communications Group (Russia).[4]


Football for Friendship 2013[edit]

The first International Children's Forum Football for Friendship was held on May 25, 2013, in London. 670 children from 8 countries took part in it: from Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Russia, Serbia and Slovenia.[5] Russia was represented by 11 football teams from 11 Russian cities that will host the FIFA World Cup matches in 2018. The junior teams of Zenit, Chelsea, Schalke 04, Crvena Zvezda clubs, winners of the children's sports day of Gazprom, and winners of the Fakel festival[6] also participated in the forum.

During the Forum, the children talked with their peers from other countries, and famous footballers, and also attended the UEFA Champions League Final in 2012/2013 at Wembley Stadium.[7]

The result of the forum was an open letter in which the children formulated the eight values of the program: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory and traditions. Later the letter was sent to the heads of the UEFA, FIFA and IOC.[8] In September 2013, during a meeting with Vladimir Putin and Vitaly Mutko, Sepp Blatter confirmed receipt of the letter and stated that he was ready to support Football for Friendship.[9]

Football for Friendship 2014[edit]

The second season of the Football for Friendship Programme was held in Lisbon on May 23–25, 2014 and embraced more than 450 teenagers from 16 countries: Belarus, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, France and Croatia. The young footballers took part in the international International Football for Friendship Forum, a tournament in street football and attended the UEFA Champions League Final in 2013/2014.[10] The winner of the International Street Football Tournament in 2014 was the Benfica junior team (Portugal).

The result of the second season of the program was the election of a leader of the Football for Friendship movement. It was Felipe Suarez from Portugal.[11] In June 2014, as leader of the movement, he visited the ninth international youth football tournament in memory of Yuri Andreyevich Morozov.

Football for Friendship 2015[edit]

The third season of the International Social Programme Football for Friendship was held in June 2015 in Berlin.[12] Young participants from the Asian continent – children's football teams from Japan, China and Kazakhstan – participated in the programme for the first time. In total, junior teams from 24 football clubs from 24 countries took part in the third season. The young footballers talked with their peers from other countries and stars of world football, including the global ambassador of the program Franz Beckenbauer, and also took part in the International tournament of street football among junior teams. The winner of the International Street Football Tournament in 2015 was the Rapid junior team (Austria).

The events of the third season of the program Football for Friendship Programme were covered by about 200 journalists from the world's leading publications, as well as 24 young reporters from Europe and Asia, who were members of the International Children's Press Center. The culmination of 2015 was the ceremony of awarding the Nine Values Cup, which was won by Barcelona football club (Spain).[13] The winner was chosen by the children who, on the eve of the Forum, took part in global voting held in all 24 participating countries.

At the end of the Forum, all participants followed the tradition of attending the UEFA Champions League Final 2014/2015 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.[14]

Football for Friendship 2016[edit]

The start of the International Children's Social Program Football for Friendship in 2016 was given as part of an online Hangout press conference,[15] held on March 24 in Munich[16] with the participation of the Global Ambassador of the Programme – Franz Beckenbauer.[17]

In the fourth season of the Programme, 8 new junior teams[18] from Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Argentina, Brazil, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, and Syria[18] joined it, so the total number of participating countries reached 32.[19]

On April 5, 2016 voting for the unique trophy, the Nine Values Cup began.[20] Fans from all over the world participated in selecting the winner, but the final decision was made by the participants of the Football for Friendship Programme by voting. The Cup was won by Bayern football club (Munich).[21] Participants in the Football for Friendship noted the club's activities to support children with special needs, as well as initiatives to provide treatment for children in different countries and help those in need.

The fourth International Children's Forum Football for Friendship and the final game of the Children's International Tournament in street football took place on May 27–28, 2016 in Milan. The winner of the Tournament in street football took place on May 27–28, 2016 in Milan. The winner of the tournament was the Maribor team from Slovenia.[22] At the end of the Forum, the participants followed the tradition of attending the UEFA Champions League Final.[23] The events of the Forum were covered by more than 200 journalists from the world's leading media, as well as the Children's International Press Center, which included young journalists from the participating countries.[24]

Young footballers from the Syrian club Al-Wahda took part in the fourth season of Football for Friendship, which was unprecedented. The inclusion of the Syrian team among the program participants, and the visit of Syrian children to the events in Milan was an important step towards overcoming the humanitarian isolation of the country.[25] The Arabic sports editorial board of the international television channel Russia Today, with the support of the Syrian Football Federation, shot a documentary film "Three days without war" about the children participating in the project. On September 14, 2016, more than 7,000 people visited the film's premiere in Damascus.

Football for Friendship 2017[edit]

The venue for the International Children's Social Project Football for Friendship[26] in 2017 was St. Petersburg (Russia), and the final events were held here from June 26 to July 3.[27]

In 2017, the number of participating countries increased from 32 to 64.[28] For the first time, the Football for Friendship Programme was attended by children from Mexico[27] and the United States.[29] Thus, the project united young players of four continents — Africa, Eurasia, North America and South America.[29]

In the fifth season[29] the program was implemented in accordance with a new concept: one young footballer from each country was chosen to represent it. The guys united in eight international Friendship Teams, formed from 12-year-old boys and girls, including those with disabilities.[29]

In the course of an Open Draw, the country composition of the teams and the game positions for the representatives of the participating countries was determined. The Draw was held in Internet conference mode. At the head of the eight Friendship Teams were young coaches: Rene Lampert (Slovenia), Stefan Maksimovich (Serbia), Brandon Shabani (Great Britain), Charlie Sui (China), Anatoly Chentuloyev (Russia), Bogdan Krolevetsky (Russia), Anton Ivanov (Russia), Emma Henschen (Netherlands). Liliya Matsumoto (Japan), a representative of the Football for Friendship international press center, also took part in the draw[30]

The winner of the Football for Friendship World Championship 2017 was the "orange" team, which included a young coach and young footballers from nine countries: Rene Lampert (Slovenia), Hong Jun Marvin Tue (Singapore), Paul Puig I Montana (Spain), Gabriel Mendoza (Bolivia), Ravan Kazimov (Azerbaijan), Khrisimir Stanimirov Stanchev (Bulgaria), Ivan Agustin Casco (Argentina), Roman Horak (Czech Republic), Hamzah Yusuf Nuri Alhavvat (Libya).[30]

The International Children's Forum Football for Friendship was attended by Viktor Zubkov (chairman of the board of directors of PJSC Gazprom),[31] Fatma Samura (general secretary of FIFA), Philippe Le Flock (general commercial director of FIFA), Giulio Baptista (Brazilian footballer), Ivan Zamorano (Chilean striker), Alexander Kerzhakov (Russian footballer) and other guests, who called for the promotion of key human values among the younger generation.[32]

In 2017, the project brought together more than 600,000 people, and more than 1,000 children and adults from 64 countries attended the final events in St. Petersburg.[33]

Football for Friendship 2018[edit]

In 2018, it was decided that the Sixth season of the Football for Friendship Programme would be held from February 15 to June 15 in Russia. The Programme participants include young footballers and journalists representing 211 countries and regions of the world.[34] The official start of the Programme for 2018 was given by the Open Draw of Football for Friendship on the air, according to the results of which 32 international football teams – Friendship Teams – were formed. Six young ambassadors - Zahar Badyuk from Russia, Ananya Kamboj from India, Runqi Cui from China, Juan Manuel Pinola Silveira from Uruguay, Lilya Matsumoto from Japan, and Christopher Sowah Mensah from Ghana participated in the Open Draw in Moscow.[35]

A new part of the Football for Friendship program was an environmental mission – in 2018, the international football Friendship Teams were named after rare and endangered species of animals:

African Elephant

Komodo Dragon


Big Turtle

Dama Gazelle



Angel Shark

Polar Bear


Grizzly Bear

Whale Shark

Three-Toed Sloth

King Cobra



Western Gorilla

Imperial Woodpecker


Blond Capuchin


Siberian Tiger

Grévy's Zebra


Giant Panda

Magellanic Penguin

Rothschild's Giraffe

Humpback Whale

African Wild Dog



Galápagos Sea Lion

Key program events in 2018:[36] Friendship Relay (to be held from February 16 to April 25 in all 211 countries and regions participating in the program), International Football and Friendship Day (April 25), International Friendship Camp, World Championship in Football for Friendship and International Children's Forum Football for Friendship.[37]

Countries and regions participating in the Football for Friendship program in 2018:

  1. Commonwealth of Australia
  2. Republic of Austria
  3. Republic of Azerbaijan
  4. Algerian People's Democratic Republic
  5. United States Virgin Islands
  6. American Samoa
  7. Anguilla
  8. Antigua and Barbuda
  9. Arab Republic of Egypt
  10. Argentine Republic
  11. Aruba
  12. Barbados
  13. Belize
  14. Bermuda Islands
  15. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
  16. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  17. British Virgin Islands
  18. Burkina Faso
  19. Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
  20. Hungary
  21. Oriental Republic of Uruguay
  22. Gabon Republic
  23. Republic of Guinea
  24. Gibraltar
  25. Brunei Darussalam
  26. State of Israel
  27. State of Qatar
  28. State of Kuwait
  29. State of Libya
  30. State of Palestine
  31. Grenada
  32. Hellenic Republic
  33. Georgia
  34. Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
  35. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  36. Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe
  37. Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
  38. Dominican Republic
  39. Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  40. Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  41. Islamic Republic of Iran
  42. Islamic Republic of Mauritania
  43. Italian Republic
  44. Republic of Yemen
  45. Cayman Islands
  46. Canada
  47. People's Republic of China
  48. Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)
  49. Principality of Andorra
  50. Principality of Liechtenstein
  51. Co-operative Republic of Guyana
  52. Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  53. Kingdom of Bahrain
  54. Kingdom of Belgium
  55. Kingdom of Bhutan
  56. Kingdom of Denmark
  57. Kingdom of Spain
  58. Kingdom of Cambodia
  59. Kingdom of Lesotho
  60. Kingdom of Morocco
  61. Kingdom of the Netherlands
  62. Kingdom of Norway
  63. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  64. Kingdom of Swaziland
  65. Kingdom of Thailand
  66. Kingdom of Tonga
  67. Kingdom of Sweden
  68. Kyrgyz Republic
  69. Curaçao
  70. Lao People's Democratic Republic
  71. Republic of Latvia
  72. Lebanese Republic
  73. Republic of Lithuania
  74. Malaysia
  75. Republic of Maldives
  76. United Mexican States
  77. Plurinational State of Bolivia
  78. Mongolia
  79. Montserrat
  80. People's Republic of Bangladesh
  81. Independent State of Papua New Guinea
  82. Independent State of Samoa
  83. New Zealand
  84. New Caledonia
  85. United Republic of Tanzania
  86. United Arab Emirates
  87. Cook Islands
  88. Turks and Caicos Islands
  89. Republic of Albania
  90. Republic of Angola
  91. Armenia
  92. Republic of Belarus
  93. Republic of Benin
  94. Republic of Bulgaria
  95. Republic of Botswana
  96. Republic of Burundi
  97. Republic of Vanuatu
  98. Republic of Haiti
  99. Republic of the Gambia
  100. Republic of Ghana
  101. Republic of Guatemala
  102. Republic of Guinea-Bissau
  103. Republic of Honduras
  104. Republic of Djibouti
  105. Republic of Zambia
  106. Republic of Zimbabwe
  107. Republic of India
  108. Republic of Indonesia
  109. Republic of Iraq
  110. Republic of Ireland
  111. Republic of Iceland
  112. Republic of Kazakhstan
  113. Republic of Kenya
  114. Republic of Cyprus
  115. Republic of Colombia
  116. Republic of the Congo
  117. Republic of Korea
  118. Republic of Kosovo
  119. Republic of Costa Rica
  120. Republic of Ivory Coast
  121. Republic of Cuba
  122. Republic of Liberia
  123. Republic of Mauritius
  124. Republic of Madagascar
  125. Republic of Macedonia
  126. Republic of Malawi
  127. Republic of Mali
  128. Republic of Malta
  129. Republic of Mozambique
  130. Republic of Moldova
  131. Republic of Namibia
  132. Republic of Niger
  133. Republic of Nicaragua
  134. Republic of Cape Verde
  135. Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  136. Republic of Panama
  137. Republic of Paraguay
  138. Republic of Peru
  139. Republic of Poland
  140. Portuguese Republic
  141. Republic of Rwanda
  142. Republic of San Marino
  143. Republic of Seychelles
  144. Republic of Senegal
  145. Republic of Serbia
  146. Republic of Singapore
  147. Republic of Slovenia
  148. Republic of the Union of Myanmar
  149. Republic of the Sudan
  150. Republic of Suriname
  151. Republic of Sierra Leone
  152. Republic of Tajikistan
  153. Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
  154. Republic of Turkmenistan
  155. Republic of Uganda
  156. Republic of Uzbekistan
  157. Republic of Fiji
  158. Republic of the Philippines
  159. Republic of Croatia
  160. Republic of Chad
  161. Republic of Montenegro
  162. Republic of Chile
  163. Republic of Ecuador
  164. Republic of Equatorial Guinea
  165. Republic of El Salvador
  166. Republic of South Sudan
  167. Republic of Cameroon
  168. Russian Federation
  169. Romania
  170. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
  171. Free Associated State of Puerto Rico
  172. Northern Ireland
  173. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  174. Saint Lucia
  175. Syrian Arab Republic
  176. Slovak Republic
  177. Commonwealth of the Bahamas
  178. Commonwealth of Dominica
  179. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  180. United States of America
  181. Solomon Islands
  182. Socialist Republic of Vietnam
  183. Union of Comoros
  184. Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
  185. Sultanate of Oman
  186. Tahiti
  187. Territory of Guam
  188. Togolese Republic
  189. Republic of Tunisia
  190. Republic of Turkey
  191. Ukraine
  192. Wales
  193. Faroe Islands
  194. Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
  195. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
  196. Federative Republic of Brazil
  197. Federal Republic of Germany
  198. Federal Republic of Nigeria
  199. Federal Republic of Somalia
  200. Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis
  201. Republic of Finland
  202. French Republic
  203. Central African Republic
  204. Czech Republic
  205. Swiss Confederation
  206. Scotland
  207. Eritrea
  208. Republic of Estonia
  209. Republic of South Africa
  210. Jamaica
  211. Japan

Football for Friendship World Championship[edit]

The International Children's football tournament is held within the framework of the Football for Friendship Programme.[38] Teams participating in the championship – Friendship Teams – are formed during an Open Draw.[39] The teams are organized[40] on the principle of Football for Friendship: athletes of different nationalities, sex and physical abilities play in the same team.[41]

International Football for Friendship Children's Forum[edit]

At the annual International Children's Forum Football for Friendship Children's Forum, young participants of the project together with adults discuss the promotion and development of the program's values throughout the world. During the Forum, children meet and talk with their peers from other countries, famous footballers, journalists and public figures, and also become young ambassadors who in the future will continue to independently promote universal values among their peers.[42]

International Children’s Press Centre[edit]

A special feature of the Football for Friendship program is its own International Children's Press Center.[43] It was first organised under the Football for Friendship Programme in 2014.[44] Young journalists in the press center cover the events of the Programme in their countries:[45] they prepare news for national and international sports media, participate in the creation of materials for the Football for Friendship TV channel, the children's Football for Friendship newspaper and the program's official radio station.[45] The International Children's Press Center unites the winners of the Best Young Journalist national contests,[46] young bloggers, photographers and writers. Young journalists from the press center present their view from within the Programme,[45] implementing the format "children about children".[47]

International Day of Football and Friendship[edit]

Under the Football for Friendship Programme, the International Day of Football and Friendship is celebrated on April 25.[48] This holiday was celebrated for the first time in 2014 in 16 countries.[49] On this day, friendly matches,[49] flash mobs, radio marathons, master classes, television shows, open training sessions, etc. took place.[50] More than 50,000 people took part in the celebration.

In 2015, Day of Football and Friendship was celebrated in 24 countries.[51] During the festival, there were friendly football matches and other events. In Germany, Schalke 04 footballers held an open training session,[51] Serbia hosted a TV show, Ukraine – a match between the junior team of Volyn FC and children who are registered at the Lutsk city center of social services for families, children and young people.[51]

In Russia, the Day of Football and Friendship was celebrated on April 25 in 11 cities. Friendly football matches were held in Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Barnaul, St. Petersburg and Saransk, to recall the key values of the program. In Krasnoyarsk, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don, a Friendship Relay was held with the participation of torchbearers from the Olympic Torch Relay 2014. In Moscow, with the support of the Sports Federation of the Blind, an Equal Opportunity Tournament was organized. On May 5, the Day of Football and Friendship was celebrated in Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan.[51]

In 2016, Day of Football and Friendship was celebrated in 32 countries. In Russia, it was celebrated in nine cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Barnaul, Birobidzhan, Irkutsk, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod and Rostov-on-Don. Nizhny Novgorod hosted a friendly match for young footballers from Volga FC, and adult players from the club conducted warm-up and training for the children. In a friendly match in Novosibirsk, disabled children took part – the Novosibirsk region team Yermak-Sibir.

In 2017, Day of Football and Friendship was celebrated in 64 countries. Famous footballers, including Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovich, and Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt, took part in events around the world. In Greece, the event was attended by Theodoras Zagorakis, a winner of the European Football Championship 2004 with his country's national team. In Russia, Zenit FC hosted a special training session for Zakhar Badyuk, the young Ambassador of the Football for Friendship program in 2017. In training, Zenit FC goalkeeper Yury Lodygin gave a high rating to Zakhar's abilities and shared the secrets of goalkeeping with him.

The Nine Values Cup[edit]

The Nine Values Cup is an award of the International Children's Social Program Football for Friendship. Each year the Cup is awarded for the greatest commitment to the values of the project: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour.[52] Fans from all over the world participate in selecting the winner, but the final decision is made by the participants of the Football for Friendship project by voting. Football clubs which are holders of the Nine Values Cup: Barcelona (2015), Bayern Munich (2016), Al Wahda (Special Prize), Real Madrid (2017).[52]

Friendship bracelet[edit]

All the activities of the Football for Friendship Programme begin with the exchange of Friendship Bracelets, a symbol of equality and a healthy lifestyle. The bracelet consists of two threads of blue and green, and it can be worn by anyone who shares the program's values.[53]

According to Franz Beckenbauer:

"The symbol of the movement is a two-color bracelet, it is as simple and understandable as the inherent values of the Football for Friendship program".

Young participants in the program have tied Friendship Bracelets on the wrists of famous sportsmen and public figures,[54] including: Dick Advocaat,[55] Anatoly Timoshchuk[56] and Luis Netu, Franz Beckenbauer,[57] Luis Fernandev, Didier Drogba, Max Meyer, Fatma Samura, Leon Gorecka, Domenico Krishito, Michel Salgado, Alexander Kerzhakov, Dimas Pirros, Miodrag Bozovic, Adelina Sotnikova, Yuri Kamenets.

Activity of participants between seasons[edit]

Young footballers from the Football for Friendship Programme take part in various events outside the official season. In May 2013, players from the Maribor junior football club (Slovenia) held a charity friendly match with Cambodian children.[58] On September 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russian participants in the program talked with Vladimir Putin during the meeting of the President of the Russian Federation with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.[59] In June 2014, French President Francois Hollande invited the Taverni team, a member of the Football for Friendship program, to the Elysee Palace to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup match between France and Nigeria.[60] In April 2016, Yuri Vashchuk, the ambassador of the Football for Friendship program in 2015, met with the strongest man of Belarus, Kirill Shimko, and young footballers from BATE FC to share their experience of participating in the project. Yuri Vashchuk gave Kirill Shimko a symbolic Friendship Bracelet, thereby passing to him the baton in promoting the projects ideals: friendship, fairness, healthy lifestyle.

Awards and prizes[edit]

The Football for Friendship Programme has won various competitions and holds a number of Russian and international prizes. Among them are: "Best Social Projects of Russia" in the category "Development of International Cooperation", International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Gold Quill Awards in the category "Corporate Social Responsibility" (2016),[61] Saber Awards in the category "The Best Social Project of the Planet" ( 2016), The Drum Social Buzz Awards in the category "Best International Strategy" (2017),[62] The Internationalist Awards for Innovative Digital Marketing Solutions in the category "Best Media Strategy" (2017),[63] "Silver Archer" in the category "The Best Social Project of Russia"(2018), and Grand Prix "Silver Archer" (2018).


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