Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

World Cup 2014: Players Who Are Fighting Poverty

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By Bianca Brown

Saturday, June 14: Colombia v. Greece; Uruguay v. Costa Rica; Cote d'Ivoire v. Japan

The upcoming World Cup has many people anticipating a series of well-played matches. But soccer fans may not know that many of their favorite players are just as dedicated to helping their communities as they are dedicated to helping their teams win. Salomon Kalou (Cote d’Ivorie), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), and Keylor Navas (Costa Rica) are all shining examples of how talented athletes are using soccer as a way of giving back to help their countries, and helping to end hunger and poverty.  

These players are involved in addressing hunger and poverty for a reason: each of their countries has a high number of residents living below the poverty line. In Cote d’Ivorie, the rate is 42.7 percent; in Colombia, 32.7 percent; and in Costa Rica, 20.7 percent, according to recent data.

Salomon_kalou_2007Many of the citizens in these countries rely on their governments’ Poverty Reduction and National Development strategies to alleviate poverty and hunger. However, in recent years, due to economic imbalances, social inequality, and lack of employment opportunities, government applications of these plans have left the growth of these countries stagnant. With local support, Kalou, Falcao, Navas, and other athletes are using their abilities, faith, and high profiles to inspire advocacy and further the movement to end hunger.

During recent interview sessions, the players gave their perspectives on what being part of this movement means to them. Kalou, along with his older brother and fellow soccer player Bonaventure Kalou, created the Kalou Foundation, which provides social services and recreation facilities for vulnerable populations. Falcao is an avid supporter of progressive steps to help his country to rise out of poverty; he has said that with continual government reinforcement of poverty as a priority, citizens suffering from extreme poverty and hunger can be liberated. Navas has spoken of looking forward to the chance to continue working to end hunger in Costa Rica.

Extreme poverty and the need to make ending hunger a priority drives Kalou, Falcao, Navas, and other athletes to not only be outstanding role models at the World Cup, but to be advocates and philanthropists in the fight against hunger. These stars stand out for their work both on and off the field. 

Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.

Photo: Salomon Kolou, playing during in a 2007 match. (Flickr user Jean-Marc Liotier)


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