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The Euro’s to Copa America, to the Rio Olympics and China: what are the big issues football faces?

Ahead of the course Football: More than a Game, which starts on Monday. Grant Jarvie, the lead educator, explores some of the current issues important in the world of football.

Ahead of the course Football: More than a Game, which starts on Monday. Grant Jarvie, the lead educator, explores some of the current issues important in the world of football.

Gareth Bale, the Welsh team captain. (Jon Candy via Flickr)
Gareth Bale, one of the Welsh players. (Jon Candy via Flickr)

Kick Off

Welcome to today’s match: football vs the world’s challenges. There are some big players on the field, let’s see what’s what…

The European Football Championships

24 teams have been competing for the 2016 European Football Championships in France. Smaller nations have defeated bigger nations. The top five football leagues in the world are regarded as being in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain but only three of these countries are represented in the last 16. Iceland with a small population and an economy recovering from economic recession reached the last 16.

The tournament has included 8 extra teams and 20 more matches when compared to 2012 in Poland. The 2012 tournament generated £1.1 billion or 1.4 billion euros of revenue but 2016 is expected to generate even more.

This throws up the question: just what makes a successful football nation? Given the population mix of different nations surely you would have to illustrate success in the men’s and women’s international football championships before you can claim to be a successful football nation…

The Impact of Brexit on Football

In June Britain elected to leave the European Union and while football is not at the top table of European politics, football is not immune from the consequences of this broader political decision. It affects the number of EU and Non-EU players that a team can have.

Under UEFA football rules if England had been out of the Europe Union at the time Gareth Bale moved from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid then the move could not have taken place – Real already had their quota of 3 non EU players. These broader political games impact upon football: the free movement of players across Europe, football players rights as European workers, the number of youths from Non- EU countries that clubs can have in the academies not to mention the potential increase in hate crimes and racism witnessed at football related events, all have the potential to be affected. The top two divisions in England have 400 EU players.

Some 50 players from 15 different European countries are also due to start in the Scottish Premiership 2016-17 season. The Webster ruling was the name given to the ruling in favour of Andy Webster, the former Hearts and Scotland defender who became the first footballer to invoke article 17 which was created by the European Union and FIFA to give professional players the same rights as EU workers.

Will such rights be protected in a post-Brexit United Kingdom or Scotland?

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will involve four groups of four (men) and and three groups of four (women) compete for Olympic Medals. Only Germany from the top 5 European leagues will be present and only Sweden, Germany, Colombia, South Africa and Brazil – the hosts- are represented in both the men’s and women’s tournament.

Both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics have been controversial. The hosting of both of these sports events have contributed to social unrest in Brazil as people have protested against the high costs of staging the events and the displacement of people from their homes in preparation for the events.

The events can and have been used to draw attention to social and economic conditions and illustrate why football is more than game.

The 2016 Homeless World Cup

The Homeless World Cup (football) will kick of in Glasgow in 2016 having been held in Amsterdam in 2015 and Chile IN 2014. The football tournament for men and women who have no fixed address will run for seven days from 10 July. The United Nations Commission on Human rights estimates that there are over 100 million homeless people worldwide.

  • 94% say the Homeless World Cup positively impacted their lives
  • 83% improved social relations with family and friends
  • 77% changed their lives significantly because of their involvement with football
  • 71% continue to play the sport

Examining how football can positively impact lives is important. On the course we will look at the Homeless World Cup and different examples from all over the world where football is making a difference.

Chile, Messi and Copa America

Arguably the greatest footballer in the world Lionel Messi announced his retirement from international football at the age of 29. The decision, taken following Argentina’s loss to Chile in the final of the Copa America Cup, has divided Argentina.

In the meantime, the Argentine Football Association remains under contract with the government until 2019 in a project known as “football for all” to televise matches on open access TV. With an ongoing battle between various factions over the control of a proposed ‘super league’, FIFA stepped in to create a “normalising committee” only to find both sides arguing over FIFA’S jurisdiction. Will matters in Argentina settle (and is Messi gone for good)?

China Launches New Football Plan

Chinese football club spending has increased by an astonishing 60% since the last winter transfer window. Highly paid soccer stars are heading east as Chinese business backs President XI Jinping’s vision of China becoming a football giant.

At the end of June 2016 China were currently ranked 81 (men) and 12 (women) in the FIFA World rankings. In fact China spent more in the 2016 January transfer window that English Premier league clubs and 50,000 soccer schools are planned over the next 10 years.

 It begs the question: is the football league of nations about to change dramatically as China launches a new football plan? Are we about to witness the rise of a great footballing nation? Is football more than a game for China? And we might even want to ask why – why are the country embarking upon such an ambitious plan?

Extra Time

And that’s all for today. We look forward to discussing football issues more on the course, as we examine why football is so much more than a game in many parts of the world.

Join the course Football: More than a Game now.


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