Football for EFA

Dec. 2009 - The Education for All Global Monitoring Report and Sport Against Racism in Ireland (SARI) have drawn up a proposal aimed at getting 2 million out-of-school children an education via a levy on football broadcast and sponsorship revenues.


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Scoring goals that count – UNESCO report calls on football to take a stand on world education

With soccer fans around the world waiting to see how their countries fare in the draw for the soccer World Cup, football authorities are being urged to adopt a proposal aimed at getting 2 million out-of-school children an education by the time the 2014 World Cup comes around.

Drawn up by UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report to be released in early 2010  the proposal calls for a 0.4% levy on broadcast and sponsorship revenues for the World Cup, with the premier divisions five major European football leagues adopting a similar levy for the period 2010-2015. The Report estimates that the ‘Better Future’ levy would generate around US$48m annually – enough to provide an education to just under half-a-million out-of-school children each year.

The proposal, which is backed by Sport Against Racism in Ireland (SARI), has been sent to Sepp Blatter, the General Secretary of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA).

“This is a chance for football to step up to the mark and make a difference to the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged kids,” said SARI board member and manager of the Faroe Islands, Brian Kerr, adding: “most footballers, managers, and football fans would welcome this proposal. This is a chance to ensure that Africa’s first World Cup leaves a legacy that will be remembered.”

Kevin Watkins, the Director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, said the proposal was affordable and achievable. “The US$48m in revenues from the levy is less many of Europe’s top clubs spend on a single footballer - and less than one-third of the price paid for Ronaldo by Real Madrid. And it would be a small price to pay for giving half-a-million children each year the chance for an education that could transform their lives.”

Commercial revenues from the World Cup are projected to reach US$850 million. Revenues for the major leagues in Europe range from US$1.4bn in France, to around US$2 billion in Spain, Italy and Germany, and US$3.5 billion in England. UNESCO Report has estimated the potential benefits of the ‘Better Future’ levy on a league-by-league basis:

  • The English premiership could put 140,000 children into school annually, filling Wembley stadium one-and-half times. For a country like Ghana, the home of Chelsea’s Michael Essien, the headline number would represent a 15% decline in out of school numbers.
  • Italy’s contribution could put 82,000 children into school, which would fill the San Siro Stadium in Milan. In a country like Mali, where Juventus’ Lamine Sissoko comes from, this figure would represent 10% of the out-of-school population.
  • The contribution from Spain could create 83,000 primary school places annually – a figure just under the capacity for Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium. Spain’s contribution would be sufficient to put over half of Tanzania’s out-of-school population into school by 2015.
  • The contribution from Germany could put over 83,000 children into school, which would fill the Allianz Arena.
  • France could create 57,000 additional school places – just over two-thirds of capacity in the Stade de France. This figure is equivalent to 10% of the out-of-school population in Patrick Vieira’s Senegal. 

The former Nigerian ‘Super Eagles’ international James Igwilo, one of the sponsors of the proposal, commented: “What these figures demonstrate is that just a little bit of sharing can go a long way. I can’t think of a better way for football to send a clear signal to the aid donors and governments in Africa who are neglecting education.”

Newcastle United Manager and former Republic of Ireland international Chris Houghton has called on FIFA to act on the joint proposal. “Football is a high pressure environment. But at the end of the day it’s a sport. Education is human right – and that right is being violated every day for millions of kids. As a sport we can help to change this picture through the Better Future levy.”

Matthew Booth, the South Africa international central defender, is urging all footballers headed for the World Cup to get behind the proposal. “We have a unique opportunity to make South Africa 2010 a World Cup to remember not just for soccer, but for a whole generation of primary school kids who stand to lose out on their chance for an education. Let’s seize the opportunity and make it happen.”

The Report's proposal has been prompted by mounting concern over prospects for achieving the international development goal of universal primary education by 2015. There are currently over 70 million out of school children in the world and recent projections by UNESCO, to be released in January, suggest that the world is off track to meeting the goal of getting all children into school by 2015. International aid to education has been stagnating, undermining efforts to accelerate progress.

Under the ‘Better Future’ levy proposal the new financing generated would be directed towards a multilateral fund. The aim is to put FIFA and other soccer bodies in the front line of international efforts to combat disadvantage in education. In contrast to the health sector, where major corporate and philanthropic bodies have mobilised behind global education has been left behind.

The letter sent to Sepp Blatter says: “We would like to see FIFA do for education what the Gates Foundation and others have done for health: namely, mobilise new and additional finance, galvanise political will, and make a long-term commitment to Education for All.”

FIFA is part of the ‘I Goal’ initiative, which aims to use the World Cup to put education at the centre of the international development agenda. “By supporting the ‘Better Future’ levy FIFA could broaden support for the campaign by demonstrating leadership through practical actions that deliver real results,” commented Kevin Watkins.

^ The ‘Better future’ levy – changing half-a-million lives a year through education  

^ Ticket to an education – the out-of-school kids benefiting from the Better Future levy would fill Europe’s great stadiums. Each country’s contribution from national football leagues would fill their respective stadiums.  



Leila Loupis
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Marisol Sanjines
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