The World Cup Ethical Dilemma

Calum Samuelson begins a fascinating article on The World Cup Dilemma, “in spite of the numerous benefits connected with this quadrennial global spectacle, its crookedness simply cannot be ignored or left unchallenged.”

He goes on to write:

Perhaps one of the reasons we’ve failed in our efforts at reform is because we’ve failed in our assessment of the central dilemma: FIFA has successfully monetized the most popular game on the planet. The litany of criticism aimed at FIFA is important and needed, but it all tends to evaporate in the heat of the tournament’s intense allure. Thus, many accusations fail to ‘stick’ because they are frequently quite anemic: the system is bad. But this misses a vital piece of the puzzle: the game is good. We cannot engage the former successfully if we have not understood the way it capitalizes on the momentum of the latter.

Football is not perfect (as the newly implemented VAR is helping reveal), but it is good. There can be no doubt that the World Cup allows people from all around the globe to experience in some meaningful way the vital human needs of camaraderie, competitiveness, and celebration. The slogan of FIFA appears to work towards such ends—“For  the Game. For the World.”—but time and time again, we’ve seen just how profit-hungry this ‘non-profit’ organization is.

In light of this, we need to change our thinking: The World Cup should not be pitched as an ‘economic windfall’ for low-income countries, but carefully managed as a celebration of humanity’s inerasable playfulness; it should be regarded more as a burden of responsibility for wealthy countries than a ‘prestigious opportunity’ for poor ones. This also necessitates a change in strategy: Rather than trying to impress critics with peripheral perks (such as ‘renewable energy’ and ‘knowledge transfer’), let’s focus on achieving the primary aim (enjoyment of a game) without harming civilians.

Go read the full article article to see his suggestions as to how this could be done.

Church of England releases World Cup prayers

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The Church of England has released Prayers for the World Cup, including prayers for the England Team ahead of England’s first match against Italy.

The Prayers have been written by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt. Revd. Nick Baines, who originally penned them during the last football World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and has posted them on his blog.

In addition to prayers for those participating in the World Cup and those travelling to “join in the party” there is also a prayer for those for who “are simply not interested” by the competition.

Bishop Nick has also written two prayers for the England Team, written after the end of the last World Cup. The first of these “Oh God…” reflects the lived experience of many England football fans, whilst the second prayer is a light hearted take on a traditional prayer used by the Church of England  in June each year to mark Bishop Richard of Chichester in 1253.

Speaking ahead of the release of the prayers, Bishop Nick, a die-hard Liverpool fan, said:

“God is not partisan and there are bigger things to pray for around the world, not least in Iraq, Nigeria and Sudan to name but three.  At its heart prayer is about expressing our desires honestly and having our vision of God, the world and one another changed by our praying.  For the next few weeks at least the passions and hearts of millions of men, women and children around the world will be focused on Brazil, where I’m pretty sure there will be lots of prayers being offered up throughout the tournament.

I know some have suggested it might take too much of a miracle for England to win the World Cup; we constantly over-rate, over-hype and over-anticipate England performance and then indulge in a collective intemperate bloodletting against team and manager when they fail to deliver on the big stage.  My hope is that the World Cup would be a reminder of the joy of a nation coming together in a common cause  – something that in itself is worth celebrating.”

Prayer 1
A Prayer for the World Cup

Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being, guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup.
May all find in this competition a source of celebration, an experience of common humanity and a growing attitude of generous sportsmanship to others.
Amen.

Prayer 2
A Prayer for Brazil

God of the nations, who has always called his people to be a blessing for the world, bless all who take part in the World Cup.
Smile on Brazil in her hosting,
on the nations represented in competition and on those who travel to join in the party.
Amen.

Prayer 3
A prayer for those simply not interested

Lord, as all around are gripped with World Cup fever, bless us with understanding, strengthen us with patience and grant us the gift of sympathy if needed.
Amen.

Prayer 4
Prayers  for the England Football team

“Oh God…”

Prayer 5

“God, who played the cosmos into being, please help England rediscover their legs, their eyes and their hunger: that they might run more clearly, pass more nearly and enjoy the game more dearly. Amen.”