As the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is celebrated on Tuesday 6 April, Joël Bouzou, President and founder of the Peace and Sport organisation, spoke to Monaco Tribune about this internationally renowned campaign #WhiteCard.

1. What is the story behind the campaign?

The idea for the campaign came about after the United Nation’s General Assembly decided, in 2013, that the 6 April would become the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. We wanted to create a global platform, www.april6.org, that big organisations, international federations, Olympic committees and sports stars could contribute to. The idea of having a white card was inspired by the yellow and red cards used in football. We wanted to emphasise the positive, rather than the negative, side of sport. Sport can be a way of bringing people together, regardless of ethnic, social or religious differences, as the rules of the game are the same for everyone. By using a different card, this is what we hope to highlight. Anyone showing a white card is also displaying their values. Last year, there were 117 million* White Cards, despite Covid-19.

>> READ ALSO: Marlène Harnois: Olympic medallist representing Champions for Peace movement

This year, we decided to tell the story behind each White Card. I can briefly tell you mine. I had two grandfathers, one was a socialist, the other a Gaullist. They had completely different political opinions, but they both agreed on one thing: having suffered through two wars, they both hated the Germans. When I was 17, as a young athlete, I took part in a course for French and German kids, set up by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer and I came home and said my best friends were from Germany. Thanks to sport, people can overcome their differences. Sport is a way of uniting different cultures. That’s how international federations and athletes brought us closer together in order to spread this message. It is this same message that is being spread by those with a White Card, that peace can be achieved through sport. I’d obviously would like to thank our ambassadors such as thinking about Christian Karembeu, Didier Drogba, Laura Flessel, Yohan Blake, Teddy Riner, Siya Kolisi and Marlène Harnois.

2. How can people get involved?

Simply post a photo on social media with a white card and the hashtag #WhiteCard, making sure to include a caption, even just a short one, explaining your experience. Everyone can take part in this global campaign from anywhere in the world. The aim is to use sport as a means to achieve peace and social cohesion, during a difficult time, when gatherings and meeting other people is difficult, due to Covid-19. It is important to reaffirm this commitment. It will help protect against communitarianism, the risk of loneliness and people withdrawing into themselves.

3. How is Peace and Sport carrying out their projects amid the pandemic?

We are lucky enough to have launched digital tools, particularly via our app “Peace and Sport x MyCoach”. This tool is available to all of our coaches, allowing us to maintain our presence all over the world. Recently, we launched an initiative with the International Federation of Sport Climbing, which allows climbers from all over the world to take part in the campaign by taking photos or videos outside. We will also be doing work with organisations in Medellín in Columbia at the end of the year.

>> READ ALSO: Joël Bouzou (Peace and Sport): “Sport is a vehicle for promoting equal opportunities”

I hope that the results from this year’s White Card campaign will live up to our expectations. Despite the current situation, we get the sense people really want to take part. A lot of athletes are sharing photos of their White Cards after getting onto the podium because they want to affirm their values. Sport is not just about competing. I recently participated in the latest session organised by the International Olympic Committee, in which His Serene Highness [Prince Albert II of Monaco, editor’s note] also participated. And for the next five years too, it will be the values that count, far more than the results will. This is a great opportunity.

*6 million in 2014, 7 million in 2015, 15 million in 2016, 43 million in 2017, 90 million in 2018 and 98 million in 2019.

Photos : Peace and Sport