Are you eating, sleeping, drinking and teaching the World Cup? How does our consumption of the global game impact us and others around the world?
The FIFA World Cup 2006 has kicked off. Few will be able to ignore the multi-media coverage following the ‘beautiful’ game as it takes global centre stage for this month long football festival.
32 countries from around the globe will battle it out in 11 venues around Germany, Europe.
With tens of thousands of football fans travelling to Germany to watch matches and millions of others looking and listening in on TV, radio and the internet, the World Cup 2006, geographers are bound to contemplate the myriad interconnections between people, places and environments of such a global event.
What are the geographies of Germany?
How is the World Cup relevant to interconnections of the local and global?
Sustainable football for sustainable futures? Sustainability, work and employment, leisure and tourism, citizenship?
During the tournament spectators will get chances to improve their regional knowledge and understanding about the histories and geographies of different regions of Germany as teams are transported around 11 different venues across the country.
Population: 82.5 million (UN, 2005)
Area: 357,027 sq km (137,849 sq miles)
Major language: German
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 76 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Euro = 100 cents
Main exports: Motor vehicles, electrical machinery, metals
GNI per capita: US $30,120 (World Bank, 2005)
Making a country: the geographies of Germany.
Using internet references, design a ‘World Cup 2006 tour’ of Germany based around the 11 locations of the venues.
What is the Country like?
How are regions similar / different?
What and how are regions connected?
What are the physical geography features of different regions of Germany?
Why do you think people would be interested in visiting Germany?
How does the country connect with other people and places (consider, for example archaeology and history of the country – how do other people and places inform and define contemporary Germany? What factors influence the difference in quality of peoples’ lives?
Footballer’s (or Footballer’s Wives!) Diary World Cup 2006
Imagine you are one of the world cup footballers or a footballer’s wife (You can choose whoever you want to be). Imagine your team wins every one of their matches. Write an imaginary ‘diary’ of your lived World Cup 2006 experience. Based around each of the venues you play in, describe and explain the different geographies experienced in the different regions of the country.
Landscape features, peoples,cultures,traditions,social and economic activities in the different regions, retail opportunities, leisure and tourism
Students undertaking this activity will need to look at the schedule for team matches and see where they are playing and then look up a range of information about the locations of and surrounding the stadium in order to explain and describe the kinds of sights, sounds, smells and tastes that the world cup footballer of their choice might experience (other than inside the football stadium!)
World Cup 2006: The secret Tournament Diary of ___________
Today we play in ______ which is in the _____ region of Germany.
DESCRIBE IN AS MUCH DETAIL AS POSSIBLE ……
Today I did ____________
I saw ____________
I heard ____________
I smelt ____________
I tasted ____________
I touched _____________
German Phrases that I used today included ____________
For the vast majority of people, the World Cup offers a chance to support a favourite footballer or team and monitor their progress through the tournament.
Such international tournaments are an opportunity to better understand how people and places, countries and societies interconnect and how places have multiple and long histories of interconnections.
One factor that the World Cup celebrations illustrate is the exponential growth of the variety of consumption experiences on offer.
People can literally ‘buy the World Cup experience’ they would like:
Why not apply for ‘Official England’ Credit card? Then you could buy the official clothing, food and drink products;
This obviously generates huge profits for companies as people pay for travel, holidays, tickets, upgrades, TV licenses, specially themed parties in public spaces targeting particular football fans ( for example, in Glasgow there are ‘official’ team pubs such as this photo illustrates).
While it is possible for people to feel included as they celebrate and ‘eat’ their own football national identity in their team colours, it is also possible for people to feel geographies of exclusion.
Interestingly, the Commission for Race Equality in Scotland has already announced that it will not tolerate anti-England comments from Scottish fans.
While some people might argue that a little banter and taunting is ‘just for fun’ there is a problem of racial abuse in football. Recent tabloid headlines have warned people from ethnic minorities not to travel to Germany because increasing racist attacks.
Whilst this might seem alarmist, the real context in Germany has been a rise in Neo-Nazi groups attacking Black and Asians. There have been announcements that there will be rallies during the world cup by such racist right wing groups.
Organisations such as Football Unites Racism Divides based in Sheffield have been campaigning for over 10 years for football to be a vehicle for cultural and ethnic cohesion rather than division. This group set up to challenge racist groups from initiating attacks in and around Sheffield.
Likewise Show Racism the Red Card has also had a strong positive presence in schools around the UK and beyond. That sports can be uniting and allow spaces of understanding to occur results in transgressive geographies where people do not feel excluded or restricted.
Global football consumption - the geo-biographies of football merchandise
The task for this exercise is to write up the geo-biography (life story over time and space) of a product that is being sold or created from the world cup. For example: Panini World Cup Stickers; Top Trumps World Cup Footballers, the ‘Official’ World Cup 2006 T-shirt, an ‘England’ Flag (or Flag of the country of your choice taking part in the tournament)..
Your job is to look at all the processes and components necessary to make your chosen product (use the internet, look at the product itself, publisher’s details, contact address, ingredients list) and be a Geography sleuth - find out as much as you can.
Then using outline maps on paper or in PowerPoint, plot and label where different parts of the product come from.
Draw a story picture board showing the life of the product – its past and what you will be doing with it. Also make sure your story board has at least three extra squares for ‘the future’ – what will you be doing with the products after the World Cup? Selling on Ebay? Recycling the products?
Geographies of Exclusion and Transgression: Football – the debate.
Using case study examples from Show Racism the Red Card and Football Unites Racism Divides as well as recent news reports of racist attacks, , explore the geographical causes and consequences of racism and how these can be overcome.
For example how and why might Germany’s recent history and the changes to its geography create tensions and to what extent have these been resolved? Is it just about Neo-Nazis in Germany? What about debates surrounding ‘football hooligans’? Does this affect the way people are treated? (Consider way people live in hope and the way people live in fear and how these emotional geographies can affect how people lives their lives).
It is estimated that over 3.2 million spectators from Germany and beyond will attend the 64 matches that make up the 2006 World Cup. [source: Green Goal website]
In addition to this, are the 15 000 expected journalists and over 12000 unpaid volunteers - that’s a lot of people moving on planes, trains and cars.
How they go about their business supporting and experiencing the World Cup will have an impact on the resources.
This does not apply to only those attending the matches. How people choose to watch matches across the world will have knock on consequences in the amount and types of energy consumed and resources used.
In a response to this, for the first time in the history of the world cup, FIFA is initiating Green Goal ™ in 2006.
Franz Beckenbauer, heading the Organizing Committee announced in 2001 the intention to make the 2006 World Cup as environmentally sustainable as possible to help reduce the environmental impacts of global events.
Some measures implemented have included ensuring that Corporate backers of the World Cup follow guidance from environmental advisors such as the Ecological Society.
Corporations such as Coca-Cola have committed to using recycled plastic packaging, and venues using renewable energy suppliers within the as well as encouraging visitors to be more ecologically aware.
But will this really go far enough? Words and intentions are a good start, but how far will this be put in practise?
Many charities and non-government organisations have commented that while raising awareness of environmental impact is important, in reality this will not be a ‘carbon-neutral’ event.
Short-haul air travel companies highlighted cheap flights across Europe. Some have even suggested that people shouldn’t be attaching flags to cars. Attaching two flags to the side of a car and driving around for an hour causes enough ‘drag’ to use up an extra litre of petrol! Considering the large numbers of car flags bought and all time high oil prices means that ‘supporting your team’ could have a costly personal finance and environmental impact!
Charities such as Oxfam have pointed out these footballing memorabilia are the resulted of ‘sweated labour' and poor working conditions of people, including children. Oxfam has urged the millionaire football stars to voice concerns about this.
How can the global football industry become more ethical and environmentally and socially sustainable?
Imagine you are going to a live match at the 2006 world cup. How would you ensure you reduce your environmental impact and carbon footprint?
Consider what you would need to do
a) Before you go (what are you packing? How would you be travelling?)
b) During the event (are you going to buy all the merchandise? Do you really need to?)
c) After the event (How are you going to dispose of your rubbish after the event?
Design an information leaflet for the Organising Committee that the World Cup 2006 could use to educate children younger than you about being environmentally responsible when attending a global event.
World Cup 2006: Corporate Citizenship or Green washing?
Students to use the internet to establish arguments about whether or not the Organising Committee are going ‘far’ enough in making the tournament environmentally sustainable?
Is it sustainable or does it use claims at being sustainable to make itself look responsible?
Students to work in groups reflecting different interest groups to discuss and debate these geographies of responsibility (Massey 2004) and the individual, collective and corporate citizenship that interplay at international events.
Consider possible roles to research and discuss viewpoints:
CEO Coca-Cola, Franz Beckenbauer and OC of Germany 2006, Climatologist, environmentalists from organisations such as Rising Tide; workers employed to make world cup flags / Football kits / football trainers (No Sweat Campaign)
Action points: put together proposals for the ultimate Green World Cup – what and who would disapprove of these measures and for what reasons? How could these arguments be negotiated? Consider how participatory decision making approaches could be applied.
Written by Jo Norcup, Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
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