“Dream big and Respect other People”: French Football Star and UEFA Ambassador Eric Abidal Gives F4F Young Journalist an Exclusive Interview

The former French international and two-time winner of the Champions League with FC Barcelona supports the Gazprom International Children’s Social Programme Football for Friendship (F4F) in his capacity as a UEFA ambassador. As part of the Good News Show, he answered the questions of the 15-year-old F4F Young Journalist Irintsoa Rakotomamonjy from Madagascar.

Today, Eric Abidal is a football manager. He told the Young Journalist that the most emotional moment of his career had been his return to his team after an operation following a cancer diagnosis in March 2011. With his children’s cancer charity, which he founded in 2015, he wanted to make a contribution to the fight against this illness. And it was his dream to conquer cancer completely. He added that during the corona pandemic his charity – and also that of his wife – had tried, in spite of the lockdown, to stay in touch with the children it supports, and had visited them in hospital and brought them small gifts.

When Irintsoa told him that boys and girls in the F4F programme played in a team with equal rights, Eric Abidal replied that women’s football had already made enormous progress and was continuing to grow. He was convinced that women are showing the world that they can develop similar abilities to those of men. He predicted that women’s football would have become a global sport in 10 years’ time.

For him, it was very important to experience the emotionality of football on the playing field. But in sport too digitisation was gaining ground. He thought that in 10 years’ time e-sport would be the number one sport. Irintsoa explained that, in the case of F4F, the Championships in 2020 and 2021 were contested in a digital format.

The Young Journalist went on to tell her famous interview partner that the participants in F4F shared the programme’s Nine Values: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour. When asked which value was the most important for him, Eric Abidal said it was friendship. For him, this included a good relationship with everyone, teamwork, and respect for others.

As a successful footballer, his advice to young people who are striving for a career in sport was, above all, to respect other people, their parents, their teachers, their trainers and their friends. And they should have big dreams, which of course they would have to work hard to achieve. To see the interview, please click on the following link: https://youtu.be/GhLvsy_tQbQ.

Following the ZOOM-interview with the Young Journalist from the F4F Press Centre, Eric Abidal held a short football training session with the 13-year-old F4F 2021 participant from Belgium Elias Ali Mohamad. After a short warm-up phase, Abidal showed his young training partner a few tricks and encouraged him to practise them with him. This episode can be viewed by clicking on the following video link: https://youtu.be/bsK04TU0ZV8.

Before Eric Abidal, the UEFA ambassadors Luis Garcia from Spain, Kelly Smith from England and Robert Pirès from France had already taken part in #STADIUMISWHEREIAMand had spoken on the Good News Show with the Young Journalist about Football for Friendship, their life and their career.

As part of #STADIUMISWHEREIAM, the following sports stars also showed what they can do: Anton Pawlinow, two-time freestyle world champion from Russia, Andreas Cetkovic, French freestyle football champion with the S3 Freestyle Crew, and the six-time freestyle world champion Mélody Donchet.

About Football for Friendship

The International Children’s Social Programme Football for Friendship has been organised and run by Gazprom since 2013. Over the previous eight seasons, more than 15,000 children and young people from 211 countries and regions have taken part in the programme. And more than 6,000,000 people support the project.

Boys and girls aged between 12 and 14, including children with disabilities, participate in the project as “Young Players” or “Young Journalists”. Young Players represent different countries and cultures. They show that nationality, gender, and physical abilities aren’t a barrier to becoming a team. Young Journalists report on the Football for Friendship projects in the International Children’s Press Centre. All former participants later become “Young Ambassadors” for the programme and continue to share their experience and to promote the universal human values which Football for Friendship stands for: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour.

UEFA, FIFA, football federations and the world’s leading football clubs, international charity foundations, famous athletes, politicians, and artists support Football for Friendship. The project has received over 60 national and international awards in the field of social responsibility, sports, and communications, including two GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ titles for the most nationalities in a football training session in history and the most users in a football video hangout.