The Scottish FA has become the first national association in world football to be part of a ground-breaking new FIFA Guardians™ project, designed to enhance child safeguarding standards within the game.

Scottish FA Child Wellbeing and Protection Manager Alyson Evans helped launch the new dedicated Programme and Toolkit today [Wednesday, 10 July], which is led by world football’s governing body and includes UNICEF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football [CONCACAF], the Oceania Football Confederation and the Council of Europe.

The Scottish FA completes the Expert Working Group, the only National Association involved in the development of the toolkit.

This new initiative aims to provide practical guidance to support the 211 FIFA Member Associations (MAs) in reviewing their existing safeguarding measures, to help prevent any risk of harm to children in football, and to appropriately respond if concerns arise.

Containing practical guidance and support materials, the new online toolkit is based on ‘five principles and five steps’ that are underpinned by recognised international standards and best practice in child safeguarding across sports.

The FIFA Guardians™ programme will be rolled out in the coming months through a series of training modules and workshops to promote global awareness and its implementation in all FIFA Member Associations, and by working together with the Confederations.

Scottish FA Child Wellbeing and Protection Manager Alyson Evans said: “The launch of the FIFA Guardians Programme is the product of extensive work with FIFA and the members of the Child Safeguarding Expert Working Group.

“It is with pride that we have been so heavily involved in this forward thinking initiative as an organisation, something which will establish best practice in child safeguarding amongst all 211 Member Associations of FIFA.

“It is imperative for children to be able to enjoy football in a safe and secure environment, a responsibility the Scottish FA, FIFA and the four other members of the Expert Working Group share.

“The Scottish FA’s role at the forefront of the creation of this ground-breaking initiative underscores our commitment to child wellbeing and protection. It also demonstrates our desire to work within and out with Scotland to contribute to and learn from best practice to ensure that football is a safe environment for all children in Scotland.”

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “FIFA’s vision is to promote the game of football, protect its integrity and bring the game to all. In realising this vision, we aim to ensure that involvement in football, in any form, is a positive experience for all children.

“Further, as the world governing body of football, FIFA has a duty and responsibility to ensure that those who play football can do so in a safe, positive and enjoyable environment.

“Today’s launch is a landmark step for FIFA and the world of football in general, and I am confident that the FIFA Guardians™ programme will help to mobilize action and to guide our 211 member associations around the world in reviewing and implementing their own safeguarding measures to keep children safe in football. FIFA believes this to be every child’s right.”

Chief Member Associations Officer at FIFA Joyce Cook added: “Whilst some member associations have well-developed policies and procedures in place, it is clear that many others are just starting out on their safeguarding journey.

“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the members of FIFA’s Child Safeguarding Expert Working Group, who are leading experts in this field, for their support and expertise in developing the new toolkit.

“We are delighted that they have also agreed to advise us in the further development of the FIFA Guardians programme, so that we can ensure the continued delivery of the most current and best possible guidance, to address the needs of our members in safeguarding children across the game.”