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FIFA: That’s why we believe in a social 2010 World Cup 2

KHAYELITSHA, a Cape Town township – Matthew is running on the Football For Hope pitch, opened by FIFA in Cape Town.  He has to dribble the ball through a series of cones that represent risky sexual behaviours. When he makes a mistake, his mates have to surround him. The message behind the game is clear. If you take risks with HIV, the consequences will involve other people too.

The Kayelitsha centre – where around 80,000 people who are HIV positive live – is the first of twenty FIFA centres that will be opened all over Africa. The programme is managed from FIFA’s corporate social responsibility office, based at the FIFA headquarter in Zurich.

Federico Addiechi, 43, the man who persuaded Stephen Blatter, FIFA president, to invest in social issues comes from Argentina but is of Italian background. Thanks to his work, today FIFA allocates 0.7 per cent of its incomes to social activities.

What is the main aim of the Fifa initiative “Football for hope”?

The programme is part of our CSR programme, the programme will continue through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Since 2005 we have used football to promote social development. “Football for hope” helps numerous NGOs who apply sports to development in rural areas or urban townships all over the world. We support them through new initiatives and through capacity building projects.

Will there be a “Social World Cup” in South Africa?

We are hosting an event that we will showcase the work of our partner social organizations. We have pledged to support them even after the World Cup ends. From July 4 to 10, the Johannesburg township of Alexandra will host the Football for Hope festival. Thirty-two teams made up of children from these communities will gather and play in a special stadium built in Alexandra. July 2 and 3 have been declared two days against racism. The quarterfinals will be dedicated to the fight against discrimination and after the games the team captains will read a declaration against racism. The One Goal campaign will also be launched during the games. It is a campaign that urges the international community to do more to extend universal education throughout the world.

Can you tell us more about the Football for Hope Centres?

South Africa will host five of these centres, the other 15 will be built in different African countries. We want to keep our promise to spread the benefits of the World Cup to other African countries. They are community centres that we have built in poor areas. We use sport to build awareness around development, education and community issues amongst young boys and girls. It is a social project not a sports initiative.

How much does FIFA allocate to its CSR projects?

The budget is exactly 0.7 per cent of our total incomes, around 25 million US dollars. This percentage is meant to mimic the percentage of total income that rich nations have promised towards aid and development, a promise that has only been respected by six countries. We want to be really social responsible.

The TV income rights that FIFA has for the World Cup guarantee that FIFA will walk away with a tidy profit after the event. But what South Africa will gain from hosting the event is less clear. Six huge stadiums have been built and thousand of people who live in the townships have been left without water and electricity. What do you think about this?

The building of infrastructures and transport systems is left to the hosting country, but FIFA is in charge of managing the rest of the organisation for the World Cup. There are several incomes sources which flow directly to the host country, like the revenues of the tickets sales. But I understand people who are concerned about the future of this infrastructure. But I know that some local companies partnered with numerous international firms intend to manage the stadiums and buildings that were built for the World Cup. I know that numerous contracts have been already signed.

By Emanuela Citterio 2010 World Cup correspondent

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  1. sokari says:

    I think it would have been more appropriate to actually speak with some of the people in the township and shacks rather than rely on an outsider who is clearly not in touch with reality. I am increasingly disappointed in the way stories are being reported in this online journal. And once again you still have not removed that awful totally negative quote from your byline. Africa is NOT DYING! Please remove it.

  2. Dear Sokari, I think your comment is too hard. The article you mention reflects only one of the Afronline’s approaches to the World Cup. Csr is a sensitive issue for Vita (the publisher of Afronline) and we think it is our duty to give voice not only to people from the ground, but also to organisations like FIFA, who has the power on their side, to see what they are doing on social issues. I invite you to click on the wiget dedicated to the World Cup and check the articles we are publishing. You will see that a lot of pieces are written by journalists “in touch with reality”. In the meantime, you raised an interesting problem: What is the African or South African reality we want to cover? There is a huge debate in France regarding the way French media are covering the World Cup and South Africans social issues. That debate brings me to the quote you inviteD us to remove again: in recent weeks we have debated a lot and we have decided to change it. Actually, it is too negative and it does not reflect the current reality. But let me just say that the Kapuscinski’s sentence was more focused on the absence of Africa in European medias (and also the huge challenges for African social issues). Now we hope that World Cup will open a new “media era”.

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi