HAMBURG, Germany, March 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
Today Gazprom, official partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, announced the opening of the fifth season of the Football for Friendship (F4F) international children's social project. The event will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, from June 26 to July 3.
The project's geographical scope expanded considerably in 2017, with the number of participating countries doubling from 32 to 64. This year, Mexico and the U.S. will make their F4F debut. The project has thus brought together young footballers from four continents: Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas.
The fifth season will be held in a new format. Instead of representing football clubs from different countries, young players will be divided into eight international Friendship Teams.
The teams' composition and the playing positions of the participants were determined today in a draw procedure. Individual player selection will take place at the Friendship Relay Race. The F4F International Organizing Committee will join efforts with national football federations to select young athletes for the 2017 competition. Eight-player teams will comprise boys and girls aged 12 to 14, including those with disabilities.
The draw procedure took place via an online conference. Taking part in the ceremony were young football coaches from Friendship Teams: Mikhail Babich (16, Russia), Rene Lampert (15, Slovenia), Stefan Maksimovic (15, Serbia), Felipe Soares (17, Portugal), Charlie Sui (12, China), Elvira Herzog (16, Switzerland), Igor Khritsyuk (14, Ukraine), and Brandon Shabani (15, UK), as well as F4F International Press Center representative Lilia Matsumoto (15, Japan).
On April 25, the project will be joined by tens of thousands of children and adults celebrating the International Day of Football and Friendship. Each of them will wear a Friendship Bracelet, the official symbol of F4F, with blue and green threads interwoven to symbolize equality and healthy living.
On July 1, St. Petersburg will host the International Football for Friendship Tournament, bringing together players of different ethnicities, genders and physical capabilities.
July 2 will see the Fifth Football for Friendship International Children's Forum, which will allow youngsters to discuss with famous footballers and journalists how to promote the project's values around the world.
The fifth season of the F4F project will conclude with a visit to the final match of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 at the St. Petersburg Stadium.