International Volunteer Day has provided FIFA President Gianni Infantino with the opportunity to stress the crucial role that volunteers play in the delivery of FIFA tournaments, saluting their support during the ongoing FIFA Arab Cup 2021, while also acknowledging their involvement in the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
“Volunteers have played a crucial part in making football both the most beautiful and the most popular sport in the world,” said the FIFA President. “You are the lifeblood of football and we salute you all for your outstanding support and for your tireless dedication that has helped football to grow across the globe. The eyes of the world will follow FIFA in 2022 as the FIFA World Cup takes place in Qatar, and we invite volunteers to be part of our winning team, which will deliver the biggest and best global football event that the world has ever seen.”
The interest in FIFA tournaments has withstood the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2021, with over 300 registrations per day being made on the FIFA global Volunteer Platform, a statistic not lost on FIFA’s Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to all the volunteers who keep registering online, and this growth points to the power of football to unite and bring out the best in society,” said the FIFA Secretary General. “From young students to our oldest volunteer so far, a 77-year-old man, the platform has democratised volunteering in football, opening up opportunities to everyone.”
Across the globe, from Lithuania to Qatar, volunteers have provided crucial support in the delivery of all FIFA tournaments in 2021, during which friendships have been built and skills have been acquired, but also with the spirit of fun and camaraderie.
For example, Greta, who gave her time to help ensure the success of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™, has encapsulated just what the experience means to many.
“This opportunity has opened the door to wider horizons,” said Greta, as this tournament concluded in early October.
“I learnt to work in teams with strangers, and I met not only wonderful Lithuanians, but also FIFA volunteers, who showed me that anything is possible if you just want it. I don’t even know how to describe it, just that I would definitely repeat it all over again and dive straight into all the adventures we have experienced here.”
It is a feeling that has been replicated globally, not least in Qatar, which is becoming one of the focal points of the global game. Over 70,000 applications were received from aspiring volunteers for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, with over 5,250 applications received on 29 April 2021, the launch day of the tournament’s volunteer programme.
Local residents have also embraced support for volunteering, which provides a unique cultural exchange, as Azra explains. “While I lived in Qatar, my home country, I volunteered for the Red Cross, and now I am excited that I will be volunteering for both the Amir Cup and FIFA Arab Cup,” she said. “These are big football events and I am excited that I will get to interact with so many people from around the world.”
In less than a year’s time, Azra and many others will once again deserve the heartfelt thanks of the football world, when they play an invaluable role in the staging of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.