Delegations emphasise the importance of sports in addressing social issues.
Under the title ‘Football for Peace, Unlocking the Power of Football’, Qatar’s permanent delegation to the United Nations [UN] discussed the importance of the 2022 World Cup in empowering the youth and the power of sports in addressing terrorism.
Joining Qatar, the permanent delegation of the US, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, and the Football for Peace Organisation took part in the virtual symposium in New York.
The participants focused on the importance of Qatar’s role to fight violence and terrorism while highlighting the importance of the World Cup in the Middle East as a key player in bringing people together.
The symposium was attended by the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov and the Deputy Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism Bureau of Counterterrorism at the US State Department Christopher Harnich.
Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations Ambassador, Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani, reiterated the important of social inclusion in Doha’s sports programmes for local cooperation and their roles as tools that address complex social issues, further encouraging the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals [SDG].
Read also: Qatar condemns Jeddah Remembrance Day attack
Al-Thani also praised the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s [SC] efforts in combining inclusivity in its World Cup preparations, most notably through its “Generation Amazing” programme, which managed to engage more than 500,000 people from Asia and the Middle East to empower all members of society.
She also shared the same sentiment at the opening of Doha International Center for Behavioural Insights to Combat Terrorism in December, which was established in Qatar as part of a UN programme to counter terrorism.
The centre will develop research in behavioural sciences in order to better understand the drivers and factors that contribute to extremism and terrorism, in addition to providing capacity-building assistance to UN Member States, regional organisations and civil society partners.
Al-Thani has also expressed her belief that the centre will utilise sports as an effective tool in combating terrorism.
This event is the second since September that addresses the importance of dialogue through sports, through the existing co-operation between Qatar and the US in combating terrorism and violent extremism.
‘For the love of the game’
Reem A., a youth worker with experience in supporting vulnerable young people that have gone through criminal justice or social care systems, said sports can save lives.
“Sports initiatives are a great opportunity to bring people together and it helps in uniting people of different backgrounds, identities and even ideologies for the love of the game or team,” she told Doha News.
Those at risk of falling into terrorism or a more radical path are often vulnerable and in search for a sense of belonging and security. Sports helps fill that void and serves to counteract people’s proneness to get involved in violence, she added.
“It really is more than just sports and it has a much greater purpose and impact. It’s great for physical health but it’s also essential to assist in mental health struggles, community cohesion and stability,” she added.