The Nobel Peace Centre

Nobel Peace Centre has announced that it is ending its formal cooperation with FIFA over the “Handshake for Peace” programme.

“The board of directors asked management to end cooperation with FIFA as soon as circumstances permit,” declared Bente Erichsen, executive director of the Nobel Peace Centre, an offshoot of the Nobel Committee which awards the Nobel Peace Prize in a statement.

The Nobel Peace Centre disclosed that it would begin discussions with the Norwegian Football Association on how to continue the programme. “We still believe in the ‘Handshake for Peace’ initiative and wish for it to live on in the future,” it adds.

The symbolic fair play gesture used by captains at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil “in the spirit of Alfred Nobel and Nobel laureates” has been promoted by FIFA at various levels of the game, and includes a handshake between the captains and referees before and after the final whistle.

However, the statement did not explicitly refer to the accusations of corruption at FIFA that have delivered a big blow to the organisation’s prestige. But, it was obvious the corruption scandal forced the organization to sever its ties with the world’s football governing body.

The news came just days after Interpol pulled out of a 20 million euro ($23 million) deal with the organisation to promote integrity in sport.

FIFA has been increasingly isolated since May, when a US investigation into the corruption allegations brought charges against 14 officials of FIFA which forced FIFA President, Sepp Blatter to announce his resignation.

Meanwhile, FIFA has criticized the Nobel Peace  Center for pulling out of the partnership program without formal discussion. The embattled football governing institution in a statement expressed anger at how the matter was being handled. “We are disappointed to have learned from the media about the Nobel Peace Centre’s intent to terminate the cooperation with FIFA on the Handshake for Peace initiative.

FIFA insists the handshakes would continue as planned at the ongoing Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand; the women’s World Cup in Canada and future events.

“FIFA is reluctant to accept this unilateral approach on what is a joint initiative between the football community and the Nobel Peace Centre. This action does not embody the spirit of fair play, especially as it obstructs the promotion of the key values of peace-building and anti-discrimination,” declared FIFA in a statement.

By Olisemeka Obeche (with agency reports)

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