They are broadcast worldwide to audiences of billions and since Football is the world’s best and largest sporting activity by far, almost every corner of the Globe is saturated with footballing Events, even the rather egocentric USA. In fact, if I remember correctly, football (or as they call it ¨soccer¨) has surpassed every other sport in the USA for youth participation and is tied with the South American Federation for the total number of youth players but leads the world in female registrations by almost 2-1 (FIFA Big Count 2006).
So what does all this have to do with world peace? There are so many examples to present but if we look at a few in the world’s hotspots such as the Middle East and Africa, we can see the impact the beautiful Game is having on people, who might otherwise be busily shooting each other.
Bnei Sakhnin F.C., Macacbi Ahi Nazareth, Hapoel Tayibe, are just 3 teams who have joint Israeli and Arab players and despite the delicate situation in the Middle East, have managed to do very well for their supporters.
Helped in Africa
In Africa, nations who are often in open conflict over their borders or resources, will stop and declare a sort of cease-fire to allow their respective citizens to watch an international between their national teams. This happened between Benin and togo in 1987 when a serious disagreement over their mutual borders almost turned violent.
However the issue was put on the back burner for a friendly international between them and was never an issue again. As someone so rightly said, football is not comparable to any other sport in the world. Football is able to move the world in one direction or another.
Europe is deeply involved in Africa and other parts of the world when it comes to training academies and football development. Along with this comes some economic and cultural stability, since more and more talented African and now Asian Footballers are playing outside their continent.
Glue for the world
There are so many examples to consider but the gist of my post is that, given the right conditions and enough time, Football could become the glue that holds world peace together and encourages nations in a fraternity of sportsmen and women.
FIFA reported that from 2000 to 2006, the total count of Footballers rose by about 10%, which is about 27,000,000 more people getting into the game over 6 years! An old referee friend of mine said that when you are playing football, you aren’t thinking of war, violence or other problems…. you are having a good time (one hopes, regardless of winning, tying or losing) and that is a microcosm of world peace.