The World Cup Effect

Sporting mega events such as the FIFA World Cup TM consume the hearts and minds of people around the world. With Brazil 2014 quickly approaching, as well as the 2016 Olympic Games, streetfootballworld would like to ensure that these mega events leave a lasting, positive effect on the host country of Brazil.

On December 10, streetfootballworld Founder and CEO Jürgen Griesbeck attended the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Latin America Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was invited to present streetfootballworld’s joint initiative with Ashoka, the Team Brazil Social Legacy Fund. Here, he shares his thoughts on the social legacy of mega events and the idea behind the fund.

In June 2013, we saw Brazilians taking to the streets nationwide to protest the high cost of preparations for the upcoming FIFA World Cup TM in Brazil. What it showed us was the immense potential of the world’s largest football event to be used as a platform for action. I do not see the demonstrations as a threat, but rather as a stark milestone in World Cup history. It is the first time we have seen a reaction of this magnitude, where a host country has spoken up and used football to draw attention to its social challenges.

Brazil 2014, as well as the 2016 Olympics, are huge events that have the potential to benefit everyone. By showing their lack of ownership of the World Cup, Brazilians have opened the floor for the football world – clubs, federations, unions, sponsors, broadcasters, players and fans – to engage in a debate about how we can use the vast potential of football to ignite social change on a global scale.     

streetfootballworld has long been part of this debate. We are a global network of close to 100 independent organisations that use football as a core element in local development programmes. From our experience and from the work of our network members, we know that football can be a powerful tool to stimulate change and strengthen communities. The 2006 FIFA World CupTM in Germany was the first time we saw the concept of football having a social impact enter the public consciousness. This took shape in the form of a global football festival that we organised in Berlin. At a second festival alongside the 2010 FIFA World Cup TM in South Africa, the idea was taken to the next level and a commitment to social change became an official part of FIFA’s work, with streetfootballworld coordinating the federation’s CSR strategy.

Now, the 2014 World Cup will be the next step in our plan, as we continue on our quest to attain a worldwide understanding of the potential of football to stimulate change. Brazil 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games are two of the world’s largest sporting events and will both be taking place in Brazil. Since they are such large-scale events, they will have a huge impact on Brazilian society and, as Brazilians have shown us, we must make sure that the costs of these events do not outweigh their social and economic benefits. This means we need to carefully consider the role of mega sporting events and to question what they should be leaving behind – their ‘social legacy’.

To ensure that these events leave a positive impact on the communities where they take place, we need a strong commitment to an effective and sustainable social legacy. This is why streetfootballworld and Ashoka are teaming up to establish a fund called the Team Brazil Social Legacy Fund (Somos tod@s titulares), our commitment at this year’s CGI Latin America meeting.

The Team Brazil Social Legacy Fund will be a unique funding mechanism that will reap the benefits of both the 2014 FIFA World Cup TM and the 2016 Olympic Games. It will pool financial resources from funders all over the world in order to provide sustainable support for local, football-based development projects. The fund will have an inherent bottom-up approach, as we will be working with member organisations in the streetfootballworld network to create a portfolio of projects for which the fund can be used. Not only do we believe that citizens should benefit from the social legacy of mega events, but that they should also have a part in designing what that legacy will be. Never before has there been a fund such as this, a fund whose sole purpose is to benefit the sport for development sector. 

Nothing can compare to football – no product, no service, no social movement, and no other sport. Football is unique in its enormous allure and power, with which it is able to reach out to people all over the world and from all social classes. Getting people actively involved in the development of their communities is often difficult, but the mass appeal of football is a means by which we can do exactly that. Moreover, football appeals to those in need, but also to those who have the resources and skills to help; it is a common interest that can bring us together to tackle common challenges.

This is why we believe that football’s responsibility is as large and unique as its power to add to sustainable social change. The key to doing this, however, is for all parts of the football world to band together. The demonstrations in Brazil have alerted us to the fact that football is losing touch with society and, ultimately, its real shareholders: the fans.  

The gap between the football industry and the communities of which it is part, and which are essential to its success, is only becoming more evident. We want to bridge this gap. Mega events have a lasting impact – it’s time we make sure it’s a positive one for everyone. 

The Team Brazil Social Legacy Fund is part of Team Brazil, a unique social legacy campaign around the 2014 FIFA World Cup TM and 2016 Olympic Games. It will pool the money of investors around the world, providing sustainable support for sport-based development programmes in Brazil.

For more information, click here.

The CGI brings together leaders from the private sector, government, civil society and NGOs to implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

For more information, click here.


This post was originally published in the Huffington Post on December 6, 2013.