Bjorn Vassallo is a Director for European Member Associations at FIFA. His love for football took root in the suburb of Floriana, at the local football club, from where he started to play grassroots football. Later he joined another football club hailing from his town of residence, San Ġwann, where he involved himself in the administration of this amateur club with a strong focus on youth development. Life at the club lasted 15 years. The power of football helped him to raise awareness, educate and inspire the young athletes to be agents for change in their communities.
Later he was engaged as Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Football Association and before leaving for FIFA, he occupied the post of General Secretary of the same Association. Throughout his career as a football administrator he also worked for UEFA as Venue Director and Match Delegate for the club competitions – Champions League and Europa League. The UEFA European Championship Finals (EURO 2016) held in France was one of his biggest sporting achievements operationally, being appointed responsible for the venue in Nice. At present he is following an Executive Masters in European Sport Governance (MESGO) with the University of Limoges. At FIFA he is responsible for the football development and governance of the 55 European Member Associations with the main objective to implement the FIFA Vision 2.0 within the European confederation.
If we take sports as a popular culture, we can reveal the soul of a nation. Although this notion is at times not easily achieved due to the great diversity of the stakeholders within that nation, Sports remains a very powerful tool and has the ability to take down physical and psychological barriers. Therefore, it is not just an impression that Sports can play an important role in influencing place branding.
In the present era whereby diverse backgrounds and experiences have invaded towns and cities, there is a growing need to offer good enough places for interaction and for community-building, this in order to establish strong communities which can interact actively and foster mutual understanding. Places which invite people to share passion and encourage children to make friends across racial, ethnic, class and cultural relations. Good enough places improve the liveability of a city, giving a safe and harmonious atmosphere from where people can look at and experience life in a different way. Sports is an important phenomenon in human life as through its relationships it can promote and increase social capital. Therefore with Sports Accessible for All, everyone is a winner.