So you think that the World Cup is only for sports fans?? Think again!
For many people around the world, sport and play are immediately and inextricably tied to the notion of childhood. We all know that sport and play are valuable tools to promote health, but have you thought about how it encourages discipline, enforces inclusion, and builds self-esteem? (Discipline, Inclusion and Self Esteem? It sounds a lot like the results of a UNA-GB Model UN Program!) In the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “sport has a unique ability to unite us, and to show us what we have in common.” The World Cup, and sports in general, foster morals that the UN works hard for: teamwork, fair play, mutual respect, and global embrace of differences.
Imagine, if you will, that “the entire world was like this [game]; a global community in which anyone could play the game; social inclusion would not be determined by size, color, race, language, faith or anything else…The love of the game would unify all individuals, all teammates. Nothing else would matter”, said Nassir Adbulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
Even the UN looks forward to watching the games!
The tradition of sports bringing the world together harkens back to the original Olympic Truces in the 9th century BC; recognizing sport as a powerful tool to promote peace and understanding by bringing people together across boundaries, cultures and religions. Many UN agencies use sports to reach goals as a trust building activity, post-conflict relief work, and with the kick off of the World Cup, many UN agencies have put campaigns into play related to one of the greatest sporting events on the planet.
UN Fund for UNICEF has a campaign against trafficking and exploitation of children; UN Women, a campaign against violence against women, UNAIDS and UN Population Fund celebrate the launch of a joint awareness-raising campaign, the UN Environmental Programme awarding environmental-friendly hotels in Brazil with ‘Green Passport’ seals and the UN Development Programme assisting in compensating the carbon footprint of the World Cup.
Brazil being chosen to host the World Cup in 2014 has been a controversial decision.
The amount of money spent on these projects, an estimated $11.5 billion, makes this the most expensive World Cup to date, making Brazil home to 10 of the world’s top 20 most valuable soccer arenas.
The amount spent by the government has caused social protests throughout the country, in the form of demonstrations, riots, and strikes. The Brazilian people argue that the money being spent on the building of stadiums as well as other tourism infrastructure, should be allocated towards the Brazilian citizens and improving public services. Brazil, however, stands by their claim that the event will boost the economy, and eventually lead to a better Brazil. They anticipate billions of dollars to be brought into the country as a result of the incoming tourism, and are optimistic that the countless new jobs created in the country will lead to economic growth.
Ban Ki-moon is similarly hopeful for the outcome of the World Cup and “in particular, looks forward to the unique way Brazil plays and celebrates the beautiful game and hopes that this joy will spread across the globe.”
Enjoy the next two weeks, cheer for your favorite team, embrace the beautiful game, and don’t forget to root for international cooperation, sportsmanship and understanding!