Social Impact of the FIFA World Cup
Philanthropy, Sports Leagues

The Social Impact of the FIFA World Cup

Every four years, the best soccer players in the world trade their Real Madrid, Chelsea and Barca kits for their national colors. The World Cup is underway and even though the US is not making an appearance, there is plenty of action to take in.

Economic Impact on Russia

The FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia is projected to raise $6.1 billion in revenue, according to the New York Times. Some economists are skeptical of that calculation due to political and social influences, but needless to say there is a lot of money coming in.

The tournament has created infrastructure acceleration, with 12 stadiums, 96 training sites, 26 transport facilities, 27 new hotels, and 13 hospitals being renovated. More than 100,000 jobs were created by the World Cup and the host cities expect to receive a 57% increase in domestic tourists alone.

More than 1 million guests are expected to visit Russia for the tournament and 350 environmental protection measures were implemented leading up to the tournament. The Russian Local Organizing Committee put together a sustainability strategy for the 2018 World Cup that explains a bit more behind their goals and aspirations for the tournament.

How is the 2018 FIFA World Cup benefitting the Russian community?

Influencer and Russian-born model Natalia Vodianova told Vogue, “It [The World Cup] definitely will be an opportunity for social change in the country, because of the infrastructure that has been put in place.” Vodianova is a philanthropist and will host a football match in Red Square on July 9, 2018. The match will be between a team of Paralympians and a team of politicians and celebrities. She will also hold an auction on July 12th for the Naked Heart Foundation in which she is involved.

FIFA launched a Diversity House in Moscow in partnership with the Fare Network. This initiative allows fans to celebrate diversity and learn more about social change movements happening around the world. While there has been some social impact within Russia, the 2018 World Cup has had a philanthropic impact in countries across the globe.

Worldwide Social Impact

Chelsea Football Club owner, Russian Roman Abramovich, paid for 30 seriously ill and disabled children and their caregivers from Israel’s “Fulfilling Dreams” charity to attend three of the tournament’s games. Abramovich is now an Israeli resident and has made a six figure donation to the charity in addition to the trip to Russia.

Meanwhile, in Iran, the 2018 World Cup has been a big crack in the glass ceiling. Women were allowed into Azadi Stadium for the first time ever to watch the live broadcast of the Iranian national team taking on Spain. Women are not allowed in stadiums in Iran, and many women and men have been protesting that law. While the law hasn’t yet changed, it’s a step in the right direction towards equality for Iranian women.

In 2013 a typhoon ripped through the Philippines, killing over 6,200 people and destroying more than 1 million homes. Tacloban City was the epicenter of the storm and received the most damage. In June 2014, the Football for Life Academy was founded to bring children in that community the joy of play. The academy has impacted more than 10,000 people since it began four years ago. They have sent five student leaders to the Russian World Cup. Check out the YouTube clip on these kids and what the Football for Life Academy means to them.

Organizations like the Homeless World Cup and the Street Child World Cup hold tournaments of their own every four years to raise money and awareness for homeless people and impoverished children (respectively) around the world.

We’ve even seen acts of goodwill, as fans of Senegal and Japan have been cleaning up after themselves in the stadiums following matches.

While we don’t know the exact social impact that the month long tournament will have on Russia and the world, FIFA released a sustainability report from Brazil’s 2014 World Cup Tournament which gives us an idea of what it will likely equate to.

Here in the US, we should be paying special attention to what we see, and more importantly, what we don’t see, going on during this World Cup tournament. The 2026 World Cup that was just recently jointly awarded to the US and our North American neighbors has the opportunity to be one of the most socially conscious World Cup tournaments in history.

Sports philanthropy is growing in North America and those in the industry should already be thinking about how to make the 2026 World Cup tournament a success in communities here at home and around the world.


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