FIFA scores against Ebola
FIFA scores against Ebola
It seems that football is without question the world’s most popular sport. On every inhabited continent you will find strong opinions about who is, was and will be the best. How is it being used to alleviate global health issues like Ebola?
Everyone who loves the sport is engaged, and there is much passion and energy associated with it. The topic of football is one of the easiest icebreakers on business trips and/or in a casual get-together, as long as you can keep your team loyalties to yourself. Revealing them can create an emotional reaction that may have unintended results.
Football also possesses unlimited social capital, which can be easily turned into energy for social cohesion and social change.
Educator and French Baron Pierre de Coubertin recognised the value of sport for international cooperation and emphasised its social and human ideals when he sought to restore the modern Olympic Games.
Football beyond sport
The popularity of football has brought sports and fun to rural and underprivileged communities worldwide as well as pride to developing nations.
It has helped to develop and revitalise local economies; assisted in the rehabilitation of war victims; brought joy in the midst of suffering to refugee camps; helped with reconciliation processes; re-directed delinquent youth; and been part of awareness campaigns related to malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS.
In its most recent humanitarian outreach, on 11 September 2014, FIFA joined forces with the UN to stop the spread of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
FIFA’s involvement has led to and allowed the World Health Organization to make use of the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia. The stadium was donated by FIFA to the Liberian Football Association and is now being used for two urgently needed large-scale Ebola treatment centers.
Commenting on the recent outreach FIFA president, Joseph Blatter, stated: “Thanks to the continuous, fruitful, and fundamental collaboration between FIFA and the United Nations, today we can use the power of football to combat the Ebola epidemic. To allay any concerns regarding the impact of the treatment units on the recently installed pitch, FIFA has also proposed to cover the costs of any damage.”
Great power and great responsibility
Who would have thought that football, a sport that is nearly 3,000 years old, would become something more than kicking a ball to score a goal? If we look deep enough we can see in this, and in every sport, a striving of the human will to overcome challenges that are sometimes more than physical skill and play.
Football, and sport in general, is no longer an activity solely associated with exercising the human body. It has transformed itself into a global industry that captivates the attention of billions, employs millions and is, by some estimates, worth 600 to 700 billion Euros worldwide. This comes with social responsibilities; and the recent quest to impede Ebola might be one of the best examples of the shared obligation we like to see in contemporary sports.
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]