Fair Play

FAIR PLAYThe World’s Game Has More than Just One Goal

We call it soccer here in the States. They call it football in Europe. And fùtbol in South America. By any name, it’s the number-one sport in the world, played in all corners of the globe by men, women, and children alike. Drive down any neighborhood in the United States and you’ll see boys and girls playing on school fields, travel teams, or in afterschool programs, running down the field trying to maneuver the ball into the net. Take a walk around the streets of Barcelona, Spain; Paris, France; Manchester, England; and Athens, Greece, and you’ll see small boys and grown men trying to make that goal with their fancy footwork. And, of course, on the world stage every year we celebrate the game with nations competing for the coveted World Cup trophy.

But soccer (or football) transcends borders and the great goals that are captured in the stadiums and televised around the world. The sport teaches values and camaraderie. It has championed Fair Play on and off the filed, spearheaded by the world’s governing body of soccer, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Based in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA was founded in 1904 and today has 209 member associations. Its goal, enshrined in its statutes, is the constant improvement of football, with Fair Play as one of its commitments.

What is Fair Play?

Fair Play is a fundamental part of the game of football, and represents the positive benefits of playing by the rules, using common sense and respecting fellow players, referees, opponents and fans. Since 1997, FIFA has dedicated one week of its international match calendar every year to praising and promoting the spirit of fair play. During these FIFA Fair Play Days, FIFA calls on its member associations to organize activities dedicated to fair play and to highlight its importance both on and off the pitch. In addition, there is an Annual FIFA Fair Play Award, presented at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, which recognizes special acts of fair play and often goes to individuals or groups who have demonstrated the spirit of fair play. In 2012, the award was given to the Uzbekistan Football Federation (UFF) for showing that fair play and competition are not mutually exclusive but complement each another.

Other goals of FIFA and world soccer include supporting Earth Hour, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of climate change and protecting the planet. Earth Hour is based around the simple principle of saving energy by cutting all electricity devices for one hour.

FIFA also works to combat racism, beginning with the sport of soccer. In addition to including anti-discrimination verbiage in its statutes, the world federation has implemented the FIFA Anti-Discrimination Days, which take place at one of FIFA’s competitions every year to raise awareness of the need to abolish racism and other forms of discrimination worldwide. Activities during the FIFA Anti-Discrimination Days include a media briefing, a media release and a special pre-match protocol, at which the team captains read a declaration against discrimination. After the declaration, the teams and referees come together at the centre of the pitch showing a message to demonstrate football’s stance against discrimination.

You see, football/soccer is more than just kicking in goals… it serves to promote strong values such as fair play, anti-racism, and environmental consciousness among its participants, constituents, and spectators.