That’s it, the time has come for A World of Football to release the last documentary of the series’ world tour. To do so, we had the chance to come back in Europe right in time to attend the UEFA EURO 2012 organized by Poland and Ukraine. It was the ideal environment to look at the two faces of football: the worldwide dominating media and professional football and its social counterpart. Indeed, during a competition such as the EURO you have got everything: stars, media, fans, passion, social aspects, etc. After nearly 5 months of travelling and visiting social initiatives around the globe, the EURO was the chance to address some questions such as: what is the place of football in our society? Is it a leisure activity, a business, a social vector… or maybe, all of these at the same time?
To answer some of our questions regarding the role of football in nowadays society, we decided to pay a little visit to Streetfootballworld (we encourage you to visit their website at the following address: http://www.streetfootballworld.org/). Basically, this renowned institution has built an enormous network of organizations which all use football to reach certain social goals, depending on the local issue they have to tackle in their own community. However, as pointed out by Christophe Mailliet (Head of Network Operations) such an approach is not always common in people minds. Indeed when people hear and speak about football, it is mainly related to the professional side of the sport. But too often this side of football is associated with negative aspects such as corruption, hooliganism and violence, transfers of players for incredible amounts, famous clubs weighed down with enormous debt, etc.
Yet, the professional football is not only made of negative aspects. For instance, big tournaments such as the EURO or the World Cup represent also major social events. People coming from many different places gather around football, making it the perfect occasion to meet each others. Foremost, these competitions are all about pleasure, emotions, festivity and discovering new cultures. This is the feeling we had during our respective stays in Ukraine and Poland!
Throughout our world tour of football, we have observed that more and more people are starting to think differently about football. The social actors we met have proven that if football is the number one sport on earth, it is first of all for social reasons. Everyone can play football. There are barely any restrictions! Football has the unique power to gather people despite religion, colors, language and even war. Witnessing this on the ground has been quite an experience and a privilege. The four of us are now, more than ever, convinced that football -and sport in general- if used adequately can change society, mentalities and people lives.
The various social initiatives we have had the chance to come across are all doing a crucial and vital job with significant achievements. Especially when you realize how scare are their resources (on a financial, human and equipment point of view). Having these various elements in mind, it is now time to urge the professional clubs and the federations to act. They have the resources and the power to support and develop this social side of football. As stressed Christophe Mailliet in the conclusion of our last documentary: “The day when the clubs and the federations will understand the power they have in their hands with football and start to look at the social side of this sport, we will be able to diffuse incredibly powerful messages and much more…”
To illustrate all this and see how popular and powerful football can be, go watch our last documentary in the roadbook section of this website!