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Speakers highlight role of sports in economic and social development

SANTIAGO, CHILE - Long an intrinsic part of Latin America’s history and culture, sport has now become part of the IDB’s mission in promoting economic and social development, Bank President Enrique V. Iglesias declared today.

Seated next to Brazilian soccer icon Pelé, Iglesias posed the question of why a multilateral lending institution such as the IDB should be participating in a seminar about sports.

"It is the job of the Bank to explore the potential of sports as an economic activity and a creator of jobs," said Iglesias. "Sports is also a social catalyst for youth," he continued, adding that a love of sports is a valuable preparation for a lifetime of good health and productive activities.

"Sports can and should be the road to social inclusion, particularly for young people," he said.

Pelé, former Brazilian minister of sports, urged participants to expand their vision of the role of sports and congratulated the Bank for its entry into this field. In particular, he stressed the value of sports as a stimulus for social improvement, citing his own experience as an example.

"All of the opportunities in my life have been achieved through sports," he said. "I grew up in a poor family, and sports were the light of my life."

Pelé participated in the Bank’s first seminar on sports last May, which also included former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Since then, Pelé has acted as the Bank’s advisor in the field of sport.

"I am proud to be part of the IDB team," he said. "And I don’t play on losing teams."

Also speaking at the seminar’s opening was Arturo Salah, of Chile’s National Sports Institute. "Let’s not place sports at the bottom of the list of social priorities," he said. "When you invest in sports," he said, "you invest in social equity."

The seminar "Sport as a Means for Economic and Social Development was one of 16 seminars being held in this city conjunction with the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Bank’s Board of Governors.

Call for new legislation

The IDB could eventually play a major role in promoting both the economic and social benefits of sports, according to Paulo Paiva, the IDB’s vice president for planning and administration and organizer of the seminar.

Drawing from its experience in other economic sectors, the Bank could work with its member countries to develop and harmonize the regulatory framework governing sports in the region, he said. For example, countries could adopt legislation that would allow clubs and teams to become corporations with publicly traded shares.

The Bank could also promote strategies to stimulate private investment in the sports sector, including creating a better business environment through a more efficient and transparent administration of teams and clubs.

"Investing in making sports available to youth in the region will pay off as they become productive members of society, bringing teamwork and winning attitudes to the workforce," said Paiva.

Sports programs focusing on young people at risk would include after-school, turtorial, and mentor programs. Involvement in sports would also lead disadvantaged youth towards better access to health care and programs to prevent drugs, smoking, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy.

Other speakers at the seminar included Jaime Trobo, minister of sports and youth of Uruguay; Carlos Carmo Andrade Melles, minister of sports and tourism of Brazil; Miguel Angel Arrigoni, managing partner of Deloitte & Touche Corporate Finance; Raj Valluri, principal, Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaun, Inc. HOK Sports; Demetris Papageorgiou, senior vice president, managing director, Rubicon Capital Investments, LLC; Helio Viana, president, Pelé Sports & Marketing; J. Hawilla, president, Traffic Marketing Esportivo; and Robert Degenhardt, president, The Ellerbe Becket Company.

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