Football legend Didier Drogba has been announced the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Sport and Health. Drogba, from Côte d’Ivoire, will support WHO to promote the Organization’s guidance on the benefits of physical activity and other healthy lifestyles, and highlight the value of sports, particularly for youth.
Mr Drogba, well known for his football career at Chelsea and as a two-time African Footballer of the Year (2006 and 2009), has a long track record of participating in various health campaigns such as healthy lifestyles, anti-malaria and HIV prevention and control.
“I am honoured to team up with the World Health Organization and support its work to help people reach the highest level of health possible, especially young people in all countries,” said Mr Drogba during his ambassadorship announcement event at WHO’s Geneva headquarters. “I have benefited first hand from the power of sports to lead a healthy life and I am committed to working with WHO to share such gains worldwide.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, hailed Mr Drogba as not only a football legend but a dedicated advocate for the health and sustainable development of communities, and added that his support for WHO can help curb the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through the promotion of healthy lifestyles, including the benefits of physical activity and sports for all people.
“Didier is a proven champion and game changer both on and off the pitch,” said Dr Tedros. “We are pleased to have him playing on our team, and helping communities worldwide reach and score goals through sports for their physical and mental health and well-being. He will also support the mobilization of the international community to promote sports as an essential means for improving the physical, mental health and social well-being of all people, including in helping COVID-19 recovery efforts.”
Current global estimates show four in five adolescents, and one in four adults, do not do enough physical activity. Increased physical inactivity also negatively impacts health systems, the environment, economic development, community well-being, and quality of life. Regular physical activity, including through sports, helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer).
Mr Drogba’s announcement as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador was made during a ceremony to launch the “Healthy 2022 World Cup – Creating Legacy for Sport and Health” partnership between Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health and its Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, WHO and world football’s governing body, FIFA.
Mr Drogba joins other WHO ambassadors including champion Brazilian footballer Alisson Becker; Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of the City of New York; Cynthia Germanotta, President of the Born This Way Foundation; and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.