Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

21 posts categorized "World Cup Series"

World Cup 2014: When Sport Unites the Globe

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

12090862296_fd5b542c54_z
Night sets over Antigua, Guatemala, at the Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross). (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

By Bianca Brown and Reina Villanueva

Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair….” Fresh off of the World Cup finals, we find this quote particularly applicable to “futbol.” Over the past month, the World Cup brought millions of people together on an international scale to share the experience of the winning goal.

The power of an international sporting event like the World Cup is that, for a moment, the entire world is watching. Every four years, people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and geographical locations are united, passionate and informed on a common topic.

 Throughout this series, we highlighted how several countries are combating hunger and poverty while promoting gender equality, educational opportunities, and sustainable environment initiatives. What has made these countries shine is the support they have received from dedicated athletes who advocate for change. Many World Cup players have experienced the pain of hunger and used football as a way out of poverty.

As we mentioned in the first post of the series, hunger, poverty, and football have been common themes in host country Brazil since the announcement was made that it would be the backdrop for the 2014 World Cup. The irony of the massive influx of tourist money during the games amid widespread, ongoing hunger and poverty has left a sour taste in the mouths of many. Protests turned violent outside the arena following Sunday night’s final, bringing global attention to the issue.

There were valid reasons for this unrest. The last host of the World Cup, South Africa, spent around $3,9 billion on the 2010 games, including $1.3 billion in stadium construction alone. South Africans felt great pride in being the first African country to host the tournament. But that spending did little to help people in poverty in a country with one of the highest levels of economic inequality in the world. 

The world will turn again to Brazil as it hosts the Olympics in 2016, yet another chance for the nations of the world to come together again and for this emerging economic power to be in the spotlight.

An international event can be an opportunity to foster greater global understanding. The World Cup helped to provide a platform to raise awareness of how hunger and poverty affect people all over the world. We hope you’ve found this series informative and useful, and will use what you’ve learned to help spark positive change.  

World Cup 2014: Football that Empowers Girls

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

Sunday, July 13: Germany v. Argentina

512px-Mario_Götze,_Germany_national_football_team_(02)The final match of the World Cup between Germany and Argentina has fans on edge. Thousands are watching and asking: Who will be the champions of the 2014 World Cup?  While Germany delivered a stunning victory over Brazil in the semi-finals, Argentina enters the match with a total of nine wins. This final game promises to be not only intense, but also a chance to highlight the determination and hard work of both teams.

German midfielder Mario Götze brought not only his passion for football to Brazil, but also his heart to empower women and girls. As a devoted ambassador for Plan, an international children’s charity, Götze has supported typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines and malaria education campaigns in Sierra Leone.

At the advent of the 2014 World Cup, Götze became the spokesperson for Plan’s “Children need fans!” initiative. The goal of the project is to use soccer to combat extreme poverty, social injustice, and violence against women in Brazilian society.

“Football plays a huge role for boys and for girls in this country. But there are also many grievances: Many girls are challenged with traditional gender roles, often discriminated against, and exposed to violence and drugs,” says Götze. "The girls’ football projects of Plan International reassure girls in northeastern Brazil and give them through education the chance at a better future."

According to research compiled by the Bread for the World Institute, increased gender equality results in increased economic and agricultural productivity. The empowerment of women was linked to 55 percent of hunger reduction between 1970 and 1995. The strides that Götze and other World Cup athletes have taken in regard to gender equality demonstrates that the fight against hunger unites both men and women.

The commitment so many World Cup players have for improving the quality of life in their homelands and around the world is an inspiration. Their support of organizations that combat hunger and poverty show the potential of their fans, friends, and fellow athletes to rally in the movement toward a hunger-free world.

Photo:  German midfielder Mario Götze. (Steindy via Wikimedia Commons)

 

World Cup 2014: Football and Activism Fueled By Faith

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

Saturday, July 12: Netherlands v. Brazil

David_Luiz_ConfedCup2013Champions17The playoff game for third place between Brazil and the Netherlands will be the last battle for both teams before returning home as contenders in the World Cup. Evenly matched at three wins and five draws, the result of this match is a coin toss. But with the support of the fans, it is no doubt that the athletes will still give their all to win. Even as the stadium lights go out and the fans, coaches, and other teams return home, several athletes will continue working on the next big fight against hunger and poverty in their home nations.

Brazil’s favorite defender, David Luiz, is no stranger to hunger as it almost took his football dreams away from him. Although it is hard to believe now, as a child Luiz was considered too small to be a football player. After being picked up by the Sao Paulo Football Club at 9 years old, he was dropped at 14 because his malnourished body was not growing. Despite this rejection, Luiz’s determination and faith propelled him to leave home for north-east Brazil to try to play for Vitória.

“My family has always been religious,” Luiz explained in an interview with FourFourTwo Magazine. “My glory is all His. I have all my blessings because He has given them. He guides our hearts and without Him I wouldn’t have left poverty nor got all the good things I have today.”

Luiz is not afraid to use his football stardom to speak out about his faith and to make a difference. In April, Luiz became the Brazilian Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS. Reaching out to young people, he hopes to stop discrimination and raise awareness.

“My faith in Jesus gives me strength to keep on going out onto the field and to do my best," said Luiz told BBC. “But I also want to inspire others — that is what God inspires me to do.”

Luiz’s faith acts as a driving force behind his capabilities on and off the field. Football stars like Luiz who give back to their communities also encourage their team mates and fans to do the same. The work of these athletes to bring attention to the struggles and achievements taken toward a hunger-free society continues their passion beyond sport. While many countries still have a long way to go in ending hunger, they are making a great impact through faith and the contributions of advocates like David Luiz.

Photo: David Luiz. (Tânia Rêgo via Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: Playing for a Better Future

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

Wednesday, July 9: Netherlands v. Argentina

NED-DEN_Euro_2012_(21)
Robin Van Persie (Wikimedia Commons)

The Netherlands and Argentina meet today to determine the second team to play in the World Cup finals. Top scorer for Argentina and established futbol veteran, Lionel Messi, and the renowned striker for the Netherlands, Robin van Persie, are sure to be head turners throughout the match. Yet while both will be fighting to be the World Cup Champions, both are also making significant contributions to the fight against hunger and poverty worldwide.

Van Persie is an avid supporter of the New Street League and was a large proponent of the launch of the organization’s website. This charity is dedicated to changing lives through football, specifically for young children who are affected by hunger and poverty. Van Persie’s involvement in this organization is an essential part of his commitment to address issues that affect current generations to create a better world for future generations.

Within previous posts, we have discussed the generosity of Messi and his philanthropy. He has taken several initiatives to support the end of hunger and poverty in Argentina. Recently, Messi was initiated as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to highlight the challenges faced by children and to fight for children’s rights. Messi brings his efforts to ensure that no child suffers from hunger to places around the world.

World Cup athletes who are also dedicated to changing lives give everyone, especially children affected by hunger and poverty, an opportunity to see how big dreams can make even bigger changes to benefit the lives of many. The work of athletes like Van Persie and Messi in the movement to end hunger is an indication of the significant progress these football stars make in their communities.

World Cup 2014: Using Football to Climb Out of Poverty

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

Tuesday July 8: Germany v. Brazil

640px-Dani_Alves-_Scotland_vs_Brazil_Mar10Fighting for a spot in the 2014 World Cup finals, the home team of Brazil will battle it out with Germany for the first time since defeating them in the 2002 World Cup. Although both teams are legendary in the world of football, their experience of hunger is a study in contrasts.

While nearly all of Germany’s players come from upper- and middle-class family backgrounds, nearly all of Brazil’s players have used football to climb out of poverty. This is the story for Brazil’s offensive right back, Dani Alves. The son of a melon farmer, Alves spent his youth working as a farmer, trader, and waiter before rising to football stardom. By partnering with charities that deal with health, housing, and education, Alves has helped prevent other children from experiencing the same disparity that he faced as a child. 

“My commitment to charity work, especially with the neediest, allows me to give back some of the warmth and positivity that I receive on a daily basis,” wrote Alves on his website. Through individual efforts such as his, and collective efforts such as the Zero Hunger Initiative and The Organic Law of Food and Nutritional Security, Brazil has been slowly rising out of extreme poverty.

Despite having a comparatively privileged upbringing, Germany’s players have also encountered hunger. When discussing why he engages with charity work, German captain Philipp Lahm confessed that he was “shaken” by his visit to South Africa in 2007 to see the country that would host the 2010 World Cup and the poverty he saw there.

"I grew up in Munich with all the advantages that a good environment and family backing can give a child. I had a great start to life and got support all along the road to success as a professional footballer. Now I want to help others who haven’t been as lucky as I have." Soon after his trip, Lahm founded the Philipp Lahm Foundation which supports initiatives in both Germany and South Africa.

While each individual may differ in their personal experience with hunger, it is still a collective problem. Alves and Lahm show us that no matter what our socioeconomic backgrounds may be, we can all be part of the solution.

Photo:  Dani Alves (Wikimedia Commons).

World Cup 2014: "Citizens suffering from extreme poverty and hunger can be liberated.”

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Saturday, July 5: Argentina v. Belgium; Netherlands v. Costa Rica

Messi_Copa_America_2011 Today, as the World Cup quarter finals draw near, Argentina will face Belgium, followed by the Netherlands v. Costa Rica.  After doing battle with the U.S. team, Belgium emerged victorious to compete with Argentina—which enters the match with three wins in the tournament. While both the Netherlands and Costa Rica have been equal in their matchups thus far, this game will decide which team has the most prowess and determination to advance.

Undoubtedly, Lionel Messi, team leader and top scorer for Argentina, will continue to drive his fellow footballers to victory. Keylor Navas, goalkeeper for Costa Rica, will also shoulder the hopes of his team. Both Messi and Navas have teammates who place great faith in their abilities. Even more impressive is that Navas and Messi are both faithfully dedicated to ending poverty and hunger in their home countries.

Having experienced poverty himself, Messi is an avid supporter of programs that fight hunger and poverty, and firmly believes in the importance of soccer as an outlet. “I believe that sports are really important for children…I learned my most important lessons in life through sport,” he has said. “It is where I had my opportunity, and I wish the same for them.”  

Similar to Messi, Navas has faith that, one day, no child will know the pain of hunger or the limitations of poverty. Navas has spoken about how his role in the World Cup is in the hands of God, and how he hopes to make the most of his time in the spotlight by giving back to those in need.  He believes that “with continual government reinforcement of poverty as a priority, citizens suffering from extreme poverty and hunger can be liberated.”

Keylor and Navas are not alone in their work to help their countries end hunger and support organizations that work to eliminate hunger worldwide—these players and their teammates rely on the support of their fans, 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: Lionel Messi at the 2011 Copa America. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: Chasing Soccer Balls and Dreams

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Friday, July 4: Brazil v. Columbia

As the World Cup approaches the quarter finals, today’s match between Brazil and Columbia is sure to be a demonstration of talent, strategy, and love of the game. Having won 15 matches so far, Dante, one of the stars of Brazil's squad, has said that the team is looking forward to the next game, and hopes to advance to the semifinals. With two wins, including one tough victory over Uruguay, Columbia has key player Carlos Sanchez to thank for many of the team’s game-changing tactics in the tournament.

Dante_Bonfim_Costa_SantosThe determination both men have displayed on the field can also be seen in their work to help people escape hunger and poverty.  

Dante, a center back for Brazil, first began playing soccer on the cobbled streets of Salvador. “Childhood in Salvador was tough…but through football I have been able to give a good life to my family. I am glad I have worked so hard for this and I had a chance to be a better person and help many people,” Dante said in a recent interview.  He supports several charities and organizations that are working to end hunger and poverty, including a campaign to help children’s villages in Brazil. Several other players on the team have also experienced hunger and poverty firsthand, and are working with programs in Brazil that address these problems.

Sanchez, a defensive midfielder for Columbia, was raised in poverty in a small city in the northwest part of the country. “There wasn’t always enough food to put a meal on the table at the end of the day,” he has said. Sanchez would often spend hours playing soccer not only to improve his skills, but to help him ignore hunger pains. Today, Sanchez supports UNICEF and its efforts to help end hunger and poverty in Columbia.

Both Dante and Sanchez are working to create a world where no one is hungry, and all children are free to chase not only soccer balls, but their dreams.

Photo: Dante, playing in a 2013 match. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: How the United States and Belgium Fight Hunger and Poverty

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Tuesday, July 1: U.S. v. Belgium

JozyAdvancing after a close and compelling match with Germany, the U.S. team will play Belgium today.  The players will surely kick things up a notch as the semifinals draw near. Despite the tension around this match, there is one thing that both U.S. and Belgium fans can agree on—both countries are making strides in combatting hunger and poverty.

In the United States, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, a large percentage of the population—approximately 46.5 million people—still remains victim to the epidemics of hunger and poverty. While programs are in place to alleviate hunger and eliminate poverty, the nation’s leaders have not yet made ending hunger a top priority.

Jozy Altidore, one of the U.S. team’s key players, has said that, “I may be a young person, but I believe it’s never too early to want to make a difference.” As a supporter of several charity missions, Alitidore is one of many premier athletes who supports the idea of a hunger-free nation.

Belgium, according to 2007 figures, has a poverty rate of about 15 percent. Two of the players for Belgium, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, pride themselves on doing charity work in the Congo—previously a Belgian colony. Ambassadors for the cause of ending hunger and poverty worldwide, Kompany and Vermaelen shine on and off the field as they support the goal of a hunger-free world. Kompany comments, “…if you can take a child who had no chance and give them a chance to become someone who can make a difference, then how much more beautiful can a story be?”

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

Photo: Jozy Altidore in a U.S. v. Austria match. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: Lucky in Soccer, Lucky in Life

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Reina Villanueva

If the World Cup had a yearbook, Nigeria and Algeria might have been voted “The Teams Least Likely to Advance.” However, both countries unexpectedly held their own against legendary teams such as Germany and Argentina to advance to today’s Knockout Round match. Some might say that they were simply lucky. But luck is nothing new for team captains Madjid Bougherra of Algeria and Joseph Yobo of Nigeria. Both star players know that they have not only been lucky in soccer, but also in life.

Madjid_Bougherra_2011_2With 61 percent of households in Nigeria living in hunger and poverty, Joseph Yobo was one of the lucky few to grow up with access to running water, electricity, and an education. However, this was not the reality for many of his neighbors.

“When I went to the homes of abandoned kids and those living with HIV/AIDS, I was close to tears and begin to appreciate how lucky some of us are in the world,” Yobo told BBC in 2007. “I see myself as someone who is privileged enough to be able to help elevate others who are not so fortunate.”

This realization is what pushed Yobo to start his own charity foundation. The Joseph Yobo Charity Foundation has provided food, mattresses, and scholarships to needy children in the soccer player’s hometown.

Like his opponent, Bougherra has used his fame to help the impoverished children of his home country of Algeria. Spurred by his own humble upbringings, the Algerian team captain became a UNICEF Ambassador in 2011.

“A player has to use his image to do positive things, because football is a great sport played by millions of people around the world,” explained Bougherra. “Personally, I have the greatest respect for players who help develop the game and are committed to society. A lot of them were born in poor neighborhoods and feel as if they have a mission to perform, which just shows the power of the modern game today.”

Yobo and Bougherra may be unlikely soccer stars and surprising challengers in the World Cup, but they are certainly making an impact in the lives of many children living in poverty.

Reina Villanueva is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at American University in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Madjid Bougherra passes the ball during a Qatar Stars League match. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: "If it’s about doing something for the kids of my country, I am in."

World Cup Banner

Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Sunday, June 29: Mexico v. Netherlands; Costa Rica v. Greece

Today, don’t miss the match-ups of Mexico v. Netherlands and Costa Rica v. Greece—both games are expected to be battles of strategy. Many of the players put those same strategizing skills to use in their work to address hunger and poverty.  Players, such as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez of the Mexico team, are a part of organizations that pledge to make the world a better place for kids who aspire to make a difference through fútbol. Ultimately, these organizations and programs—with support from World Cup athletes—are working together to end hunger and poverty across the globe.

JavierMexico’s poverty rate, as of 2012, was an estimated 52.3 percent. The country is working toward achieving many of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with programs focused on the welfare and equal education opportunities of children. Mexico also receives support from global programs, such as UNICEF.

Hernandez—as a newly appointed UNICEF National Ambassador—recently said, “When I heard that UNICEF wished to invite me to become a National Ambassador, immediately I thought: if it’s about doing something for the kids of my country, I am in.” UNICEF National Ambassadors are chosen not only for their skills and prowess in their occupational fields, but also for their desire to empower future generations.

In Greece, many families are struggling to find stability, resulting in more than 14 percent of the population living in poverty. Living conditions of children in Greece have declined, as 74.1 percent of poor households with children have reported that they can’t cover their basic needs. As 2015 approaches, the country is focusing on increasing policies that will improve food security for children, create more employment opportunities, and address the need for social economic equality. Greece aspires to complete these goals in order to benefit those in need.

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

Photo: Javier Hernández Balcázar during Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion. (Wikimedia Commons)

Stay Connected

Bread for the World