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Keeping Calm at Qatar 2022: Players, staff, volunteers and organisers keep mental health in check with ground-breaking app

Mental health has been one of the main topics addressed by FIFA and the Local Organising Committee of Qatar before the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with players and fans alike being at the forefront of the thoughts of the organisers of the competition.

As Qatar 2022 has been touted to be ”the best-ever” edition of the competition organised in history, every aspect has been well-thought and debated, from the eight venues where the tournament is being held, to the training camps of the teams and the safety of the over 1 million fans that decided to come to Qatar to watch the competition live.

The main focus has been the health and well-being of the main actors, the players, who had to come to the FIFA World Cup in the middle of the season, not at the end of one, after the competition has been moved to wintertime to accommodate the tournament, as the scorching heat made it impossible to host it in the summertime.

However, all the implicated persons in the organisation of Qatar 2022, including volunteers, were awarded free subscriptions to an application called Calm, the number one app for sleep, meditation and relaxation, which became ‘Official Mindfulness and Meditation Product’ of the FIFA World Cup 2022, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and FIFA Nations Cup 2023, striking a partnership with FIFA.

Calm is an award-winning mindfulness app that’s available for iOS, Android, and desktop. Developed in 2012, Calm has over 100 million downloads and more than 700,000 5-star reviews.

The app features hundreds of calming exercises, helpful breathing techniques, and sleep stories narrated by celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and LeBron James.

The two entities joined forces to support mental health in the global football community, with the players and staff of the teams receiving memberships to help prepare for the matches and better navigate a competition that is well known for the pressure exerted during the month when it takes place.

“Mental and physical health are equal partners in the combined well-being of a person, and care for both must be seen as integral in caring for the footballing family. As a sporting community, we need to create an environment that better supports mental well-being and mental health. The well-being of footballers at all levels of the game has always been and will always be the top priority of FIFA, as can be seen with this collaboration,” said Andrew Massey, FIFA’s Director of Medical.

Globally, Calm has helped countless members find an overall boost in their mental well-being – be that from better sleep or an increased sense of mental health. Calm user studies have proven the effectiveness of Calm content – 84% better mental state, 81% less stress, and 73% better sleep quality reported by regular users of the app, according to a press release by FIFA. 

In addition to the Calm subscription offer, Calm and FIFA will collaborate on creating mindfulness content intended to help members of the football community “find their calm” on matchdays and beyond.

This will feature a series of webinars and educational online sessions aimed at the football community, including FIFA’s 211 member associations, exploring how mindfulness is crucial to the well-being of high-performance athletes, gamers, the workforce and fans. FIFA and Calm will be inviting any professional within the game who has struggled with mental health to come and be part of this unique collaboration.

FIFA is committed to using football as a tool to support mental health globally through its #ReachOut campaign, designed to raise awareness of the symptoms of mental health conditions, encourage people to seek help when they need it, and take action every day for better mental health.

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