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Football and the community


Football and the community

Continuing the ‘Sport and CSR’ series, we look at the world’s most popular sport and examples of social responsibility.

Football is big business. The revenue of the European market alone in 2014/15 was worth €22.1bn. As the cost of football spirals, there is greater expectation on clubs to reinvest finances in community projects. FIFA and UEFA have led the way in promoting social responsibility within the game. This stance is often reiterated by national associations.

The English Premier League, the wealthiest football league in the world, established Premier League Kicks in 2006. This programme ensures clubs participating in the Premier League adopt community programmes to harness “the power of football and the value of sports participation to help hard-to-reach youngsters in some of the most high-need areas”.

Since 2009, Swiss-based Responsiball has been assisting football clubs in developing CSR strategies. Each year they publish annual rankings as a guide to which leagues are leading the way in social responsibility. This system measures the information that clubs communicate through their website. It reflects a philosophy that clubs communicate and share good practice.

From Responsiball’s 2016 survey, it is clear that the wealth of the league does not translate to a higher ranking. As well as the ‘big five ’ leagues, the top ten includes: Dutch Eredivisie (1), Danish Super Liga (2), Swedish Allsvenskan (4), Scottish Premiership (7) and Swiss Super League (8). *position in brackets

Here are some examples of what football clubs are doing as part of their social responsibility strategies:

  • The Everton Free School works with young people from some of the most marginalised communities in the Liverpool area. Through sport, the school engages young people and tries to instill the ‘three Rs’ – respect, responsibility and resilience. The mission is to guide students toward positive destinations.
  • Protect the Pitch is LA Galaxy’s commitment to create a more environmentally responsible sport. The programme also supports projects in the community. The club use their status as one of the most recognisable teams in Major League Soccer to raise awareness of environmental issues.
  • Inter Milan’s Inter Campus has, since 1997, been using sport as a tool in child education and development. Among other themes, it operates projects aimed at conflict resolution, inclusion and peacebuilding. One example is in Israel and Palestine, where children learn and develop through sport and often play matches against each other.

With access to the most funding, it tends to be European clubs that have formal CSR strategies. Clubs in Europe not only support their local community, but larger clubs also contribute to projects around the world. This is not to say that clubs in the developing world are not involved in community outreach but these projects operate on smaller budget.

The final article in this series will look forward to provide insight and advice for the future of ‘Sport and CSR’.


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Monday, February 27, 2017 - 17:46