Why is FIFA Silent Amidst Human Tragedy?

September 14, 2015

 

At a time of unprecedented global humanitarian awareness, the most powerful sporting organization in the World remains silent. 

 

The fact of the matter is that FIFA has a problem (itself) which can be at least marginally repaired by coming to the aid of one of world’s biggest current issues, the handling of refugees streaming into Europe.  FIFA has cash, clout and access.  Refugees have no cash, no clout, and limited access.  Very rarely these days does it seem that 1+1=2.  This, however, is a circumstance of very simple math. 

 

Individual clubs have certainly taken the reigns when it comes to refugee aid. AS Roma just launched the “Football Cares” initiative, while the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid (to name only a couple of many) have dipped into their robust coffers to lend a hand.  In fairness to FIFA, there is some history of supporting refugees, and particularly Syrian refugees.  In 2003, the organization provided cash, equipment, and instructional workshops to Syrian refugees in Jordan (http://www.fifa.com/development/news/y=2013/m=6/news=fifa-support-syrian-refugees-2103397.html).

 

Also, not to be glossed over is that fact that the refugee crisis has political complications, and more of those are certainly not needed by FIFA at the present time.  However, there are ways to assist without delving into which countries are or are not opening their borders.  Specific ideas include (but are certainly not limited to):

 

  • Matching cash donations from any FIFA member club or association

  • Set up temporary, makeshift ‘academies’ designed to bring football to refugee children while also providing cultural assimilation services (Similar to what was done in Jordan in ’13).

  • Create teams of ambassadors, made up of former players from both the refugees home countries and current countries.  The role of the ambassadors would be to help bridge the gap between refugees and natives at a grassroots level. 

 

For all of the negativity that often surrounds football (violence, racism, match fixing, etc.), the global unifying power of the game remains significantly stronger than the fringe who utilize the aforementioned tactics for their distorted gains.  Football has been used to stop wars, and to effectively bring light to social causes, such as homelessness and equal rights.  As the caretaker of the game, FIFA needs to take these opportunities to harness the sport’s power to affect positive change in situations exactly like the one which confronts us all at this moment in time.

 

At no point in the near-term is anything FIFA does likely to be viewed as 100% altruistic.  However, no organization in the history of sport has ever needed a public relations boost as much as FIFA at this very moment.  It matters not whether their assistance comes from a place of authentic humanitarianism, or simply as a PR band-aid applied to their massive open wound.  Simply doing nothing should not be considered an option.

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