“A campaign with a real purpose” – full speech by HRH Prince Ali at the launch of #FearlessFootball

Speaking at the launch of the #FearlessFootball campaign on Wednesday 03 July 2019, HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein introduced the campaign as follows:

“Ladies, Gentlemen, Honoured Guests, esteemed AFDP Global Ambassadors and members of the AFDP Global Advisory Board,

Thank you all for being here today at the launch of the FearlessFootball campaign. Over this exceptional World Cup, we have seen some of the most accomplished and talented athletes in the world compete at the very highest level for women’s football’s ultimate prize. The players’ exploits on the pitch will have been an inspiration to girls and women everywhere, from towns and cities to the farthest and remotest reaches of the globe, and as the tournament enters its final phase thoughts will naturally turn to the legacy of the World Cup and the future of the women’s game.

My friends and colleagues, we are at a crossroads – while the World Cup has shown us so much that is good and inspiring, we cannot ignore the fact that abuse, harassment and exploitation continue to undermine the integrity and standing of the women’s game.

It is for this reason that we have launched FearlessFootball. The message is clear – the abuse of women and girls will not be tolerated and immediate action must be taken to stop this disgraceful state of affairs.

This campaign centres on the FearlessFootball petition which we are launching today on change.org. This is a petition with a real purpose – not only to highlight that abuse is a stain on the integrity of women’s football, but also to promote clear steps that every football organisation must take to address this crisis.

These clear steps are summed up in the petition as a Declaration of Principles, a minimum standard that, if implemented, would ensure women and girls are guaranteed safety and dignity in football. That is why we are calling for every football organisation to adopt these principles and comply with them immediately, without excuse.

I would like to thank the fifty plus individuals who have already become the first signatories of the FearlessFootball petition. With the backing of the likes of Kelly Lindsey, Aleksander Čeferin, Eni Aluko, Heather O’Reilly, Becky Sauerbrunn, Louis Saha, Harry Kewell and too many others to list, the FearlessFootball petition is gathering real momentum. We are also fortunate to be able to count on the support of our esteemed Ambassadors Robert Pires and Gerard Houllier. Thank you Robert and Gerard for joining us today in support of FearlessFootball.

I would like to pay particular tribute to Kelly Lindsey, who will speak shortly, and the other members of the Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team who have put the tragedy of abuse in women’s football before the eyes of the world. These remarkable women have risked their careers, livelihoods and even their safety to expose the physical and sexual abuse in women’s football in Afghanistan. The whole world of football owes you a debt of gratitude and it was your voices that really started the FearlessFootball campaign.

After the crisis in Afghanistan was made public, I convened a roundtable of key figures in sports, law and human rights in London, with the aim of helping to co-ordinate the support being offered to affected staff and players.

From the moment of that roundtable until now, we have seen FIFA issue a lifetime ban and 1 million Swiss francs fine against the President of the Afghanistan Football Federation. This is only a first step towards justice, but it is an important step nonetheless.

We must all remember that the tragic situation in Afghanistan is about much more than one man, or even one Federation, but reflects global failings in safeguarding, governance and the culture of world football. That is why, since the roundtable, the AFDP Global team has committed itself to developing a set of principles to protect women and girls in football everywhere. The final result is the FearlessFootball petition and our Declaration of Principles that we are announcing today.

This crucial campaign will only be successful if we change the way football is governed to prevent all abuse of women and girls, now and in future. We need to put pressure on every governing body, every federation, every league to adopt AFDP Global’s Declaration of Principles now.

To achieve this, we are calling on every person who believes that women and girls should be able to express themselves through sport, in freedom and without fear, to sign and share the FearlessFootball petition on change.org now.  That is of course is a call that starts with everyone in this room!

When I launched AFDP Global in October last year, I spoke of my belief that football is much more than just a game. That it is also the common language of the world and a tremendous catalyst for change. But we cannot take this for granted. Hope and moral standing can be easily lost in the face of abuse of power. For the sake of the women’s game that has already done so much to inspire hope and change lives, we must take immediate action against abuse and exploitation in any form.

Today we’re laying down a challenge to every football organisation and saying that ‘now is the time for action’. The future of women’s football and the future of generations of girls and women in football depends on their response.  Thank you.”

See a video of the speech by clicking here

Sign the petition today by clicking here