Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How ethical is football?

I've been meaning to start writing more about ethical football. Not in the sense of dodgy owners and spiralling ticket prices - although that is all connected in the broader picture.

Rather how football is harnessing it's awesome power to bring about positive social change at home and in developing countries across the world.

My hunch, after only minimal research, is that it's failing miserably. For footballing authorities and clubs the developing world is another target market, for players another business opportunity.

There are some exceptions of course. But in England, Spain and Italy young men are being made rich beyond their wildest dreams by clubs draining every penny they can from the ordinary supporter.

Football has become the ultimate survivor of Thatcherism.

And that doesn't lend itself to taking a moral, ethical stance. But other global industries do at least pay lip service to supporting change. Football, its global reach already established, is almost uniquely well placed to become a powerful tool for change.

Will it? Is it already happening?

I'm going to return this over the coming weeks and months. I'll be scouring the internet for examples, good and bad, of what football is doing to help change the world.

In the meantime I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Is football now so monstrously bloated that any efforts can only ever be hypocritical and pseudo imperial? Or, with ethical issues now much more mainstream, is this the time for football to make a stand and claw back at least some of the respect it has lost in the last decade?

And, with thanks to 10 Shirt, here's a nice little story to start us off:
To many in the third world, simply acquiring a soccer ball is a tough task, forcing children to make balls of various materials from trash to leaves. (Read more)