What is the connection between tracking your carbon footprint and cheering for your team in the football World Cup? A UK-based website has ensured that the beer-guzzling football fan and the champion of social justice in you can coexist—if you cheer for the right team, that is.
How they stack up
Launched by World Development Movement (WDM), a UK-based anti-poverty NGO, the website, has ranked the 32 teams playing in the World Cup based on development and social justice indicators, such as carbon emissions, income inequality, life expectancy, national income and maternal mortality rates.
So if you want to support a country that has low carbon emissions and spends little on the military, it is Ghana you are looking at. Or a rich but generous and equitable Netherlands (as the highest ranked developed country at No. 6) for the huge amount of aid money it gives and the high percentage of women in the government. The US is second from the bottom in the table, while North Korea is ranked last for lack of enough data.
Reason to cheer: Ghana tops the social justice rankings among the World Cup teams. AP
“The idea came from three of our officers, all avid football fans, who decided to make football more relevant to WDM and engage with people who don’t ordinarily participate in our kind of work,” says Kate Blagojevic, WDM’s press officer .
So what started as a casual conversation in a pub has caught on, in true football fan style, with incredible fervour. “We’re getting amazing feedback on the website already. We have visitors from over 90 countries, a lot of tweets and comments on our blog. We are hoping to bring up a new generation of campaigners,” she adds.
Game for aid
The WDM isn’t the only organization to come up with the idea of tapping into this vast resource pool of football fans. Oxfam UK has also launched a footie-fever programme called Don’t Drop the Ball on Aid, an appeal to donor countries to not abandon overseas aid.
Red flag: North Korea scores dismally on social indicators. AP
“Across the continent—from Algeria to Zambia—football brings a big ray of hope to people’s lives. We want to tap into all of that energy to say: Don’t drop the ball, don’t lose sight of the goal, which is to end poverty and make life better for the world’s poorest people,” says Charles Bambara on the Oxfam website. Bambara, a former player in the Burkina Faso premier league, works for Oxfam in West Africa.
The World Cup’s excesses vis-a-vis African poverty have also drawn criticism from another UK-based charity, War on Want. Their Kicking Out World Cup Poverty campaign raises awareness about the forced evictions that took place around some of the host cities in South Africa. The NGO released a 3-minute documentary on 11 June to contrast the huge sums of money ($4.1 billion, or around Rs19,024 crore, the largest expenditure by a host government) spent by the South African government on the World Cup, despite its growing poverty and homelessness. The film shows pictures of homeless families in Cape Town’s Blikkiesdorp transit camp who were shunted out of their tin shacks in an attempt to clean up the city for the World Cup.
According to statistics released by War on Want in June, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) has already made $3.2 billion on the tournament, the largest profit recorded so far in the run-up to the World Cup. Yet, four in 10 South Africans struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. The idea, as their Twitter page suggests, is not really to slam football, as it is to raise awareness about the inequalities that the current system is heightening. The idea is to “Love football, hate evictions!”