NZ Football President Johanna Wood has urged the global football community to work together to safeguard everyone in the sport.
Wood, who is a FIFA Council member, was speaking at the first-ever FIFA Safeguarding Summit in Zurich.
The summit was organised by FIFA to continue its work and commitment through FIFA Guardians to safeguarding and making sure everyone, at every level of football, has the right to play without fear of abuse, harassment or exploitation.
Johanna Wood was one the first group of 100 graduates, from 70 national football bodies, to complete the two-year FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma.
In a short speech to attendees, she urged the graduate group to continue to provide each other with invaluable networks moving forward, as well as supporting members of their respective football communities.
Main photo: FIFA Council member and NZ Football President Johanna Wood speaks at the summit. Photo credit: Harold Cunningham/FIFA.
Speaking of her experiences, and her reasons for joining the course, Johanna Wood said: “I think the key take-away for the graduates today is that they are a community that can support each other in their journeys of safeguarding within our football community.
“My background is in education, and I’m very aware that we have to lead by example.
“We have to be role models. So, if we aren’t open to learning ourselves, prepared to take on new learning journeys — in this case the FIFA guardianship — then why would others do it?
“So, by role modelling, it gives others the confidence that we have some understanding of what they are doing on our behalf, and the leadership that they’re doing.”
The summit shared safeguarding best practices and lessons learned.
Safeguarding officers from FIFA member associations (MAs), global experts and representatives of various stakeholders in the world of safe sport — including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Council of Europe, FIFPPRO and Centre for Sport and Human Rights (CSHR) — sat alongside former international footballers and FIFA Head of Refereeing (Women), Kari Seitz for panel discussions and presentations.
Marie-Laure Lemineur, FIFA Head of Safeguarding & Child Protection, presented updates from FIFA’s work in safeguarding, and reminded participants systemic change would not happen overnight.
“Safeguarding is a marathon, it’s not a sprint.
“I’m convinced that FIFA has triggered awareness that football development is not only about football skills, but also includes a duty of care to protect those who are made vulnerable through their football activities.
“The mandate of the department is to protect everyone, in all roles in the game. It can be a volunteer at a (FIFA Men’s or Women’s) World Cup who is bullied, or it could be a female referee who is sexually harassed. It can be anyone.”
Developed by FIFA and The Open University (OU) together with global safeguarding experts, practitioners and academics in the field, the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding in Sport Diploma is an open learning experience launched in January 2021.
The programme consists of five online courses primarily aimed at safeguarding officers at FIFA’s 211 member associations (“FIFA learners”).
FIFA learners have access to dedicated webinars, moderated forums, interactive workshops and assessments that guide the learner through practical steps and examples of safeguarding best practice in sport.