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World Cotton Day: FIFA to turn “world’s spotlight” on African cotton producers

October 05 2023 - News Release News Editorial

World Cotton Day, celebrated this year on 4 October, has a special significance for FIFA as it continues working with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to explore how football can help small producers, many of them women, in the Cotton 4 (plus) countries in Africa.

World Cotton Day: FIFA to turn “world’s spotlight” on African cotton producers
  • FIFA signed an MoU with the World Trade Organization one year ago

  • Focus on improving access to football apparel value chain for Cotton 4 (plus) countries

  • Baseline study will be carried out by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization

Last year, FIFA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the WTO which, among other avenues, is exploring ways in which football’s global appeal can be used to promote economic inclusion.

Much of the world’s cotton is produced in the ‘Cotton 4 (plus)’ group that comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, plus observer-member Côte d’Ivoire. The cotton produced in these countries is among the most sustainable in the world, as it is handpicked, irrigated by rainwater and, to a large extent, organically fertilised. However, most is exported as a raw material rather than finished product.

If that could be changed to mean the field-to-fabric cycle is completed in the C-4 (plus) nations, they would gain a greater share of the football apparel market revenues, which are expected to leap from USD 82.3 billion in 2022 to USD 114.4 billion by 2028.

“By bringing cotton and football together, we aim to use the visibility and impact of the beautiful game to promote access of the C-4 (plus) countries to the global sportswear value chain,” Céline Zigaul, FIFA’s Senior MA Relationships & Collaboration Services Manager, told delegates at World Cotton Day 2023 celebrations in Vienna, Austria. “We would like to put the world’s spotlight on the region of west and central Africa. We also would like to contribute with our different partners towards developing the football sportswear value chain sustainably, then help to share the economic benefits of football in the C-4 (plus) countries. Finally, it’s all about people. We’d like to positively impact social development, particularly for women and youth, people who are the heart of the value chain from field to fabric.”

“Let me also say a special thank you to FIFA for their contribution and commitment to this work, and I look forward to jointly taking this work forward in support of the C-4 (plus),” Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO’s Director-General, said in the event’s opening address.

In September, FIFA President Gianni Infantino held a discussion with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Director General Gerd Müller, whose organisation hosted the event in Vienna. UNIDO will shortly begin a baseline study that will propose the best way forward.

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