World Cup has some big new goals

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World Cup has some big new goals

Choi Jong-jin

The author is an honorary professor in sports management at Dankook University and former vice president of Cheonan Campus.

Didier Drogba, 44, a former striker with Chelsea FC in the English Premier League, is called the “man who stopped a war.” His homeland, Ivory Coast, was devastated by a civil war between government forces and rebels that began in 2002. When Drogba led his country to the 2006 World Cup finals, he knelt down and urged his people to stop the civil war in an interview. “We proved today that all Ivorians can coexist and play together with a shared aim — to qualify for the World Cup,” he said.

His sincere appeal led to a halt of the civil war. It became a catalyst for a war that lasted five years to end completely in 2007. This is just one example of how the World Cup attracts global attention and has played a role in bringing people together in unity.

World Cup season, which will bring humanity together again after four years, is just a month away. The Qatar World Cup will open on November 20. FIFA and the Qatari government plan to operate the World Cup as an event signifying carbon neutrality and sustainability, which have emerged as global challenges. The world is watching whether the World Cup can once again lead to a miracle of solidarity to achieve sustainability.

FIFA and Qatar will use renewable energy at eight stadiums and use solar power during the period. In the past, controversy over carbon emissions arose at every major sports event. But this World Cup is expected to significantly reduce the use of transportation for long-distance travel and carbon emissions by having all stadiums within 50 kilometers (31 miles) of Doha.

The 974 Stadium — which is built from 974 cargo containers and is already drawing attention as a major attraction — is designed to use eco-friendly lighting and recycle 40% of water. After the World Cup, the stadium will be dismantled for reuse of the containers, a prime example of sustainability.

Companies are supporting the sustainable event. Hyundai Motor, one of the seven FIFA partners, has launched a “Goal of the Century” campaign to go for the greater “goal” of sustainability to redesign the future of humanity beyond the “goals” in football.

For the campaign, Team Century — which includes 11 celebrity teams of BTS, Steven Gerrard, Park Ji-sung and others — promotes various activities to inspire interest in the idea of sustainability. About 50 percent of the official sedans will be eco-friendly vehicles, and some electric buses are provided, making it the first case of environmentally friendly operation of official World Cup transportation.

Adidas has developed the World Cup official ball “Al Rihla,” which introduces innovative technology for improved accuracy and stability. It is the first World Cup official ball to use water-based ink and adhesives that are easily soluble in water to reduce the cost to the environment.

Unlike in the past campaigns which were largely product-oriented marketing, World Cup partners now focus on leading changes in the world. It is the call of football fans around the world. A survey by Global Web Index, a global marketing research agency, of sports fans between the ages of 16 and 24 showed that 69 percent want stakeholders in sports to help local communities, address inequality or make more efforts for sustainability.

Sporting events are not mere athletic events. They have the power to bring people together and move them toward a better world. The various activities at the Qatar World Cup could serve as an opportunity to raise interest in sustainability and encourage participation from people around the world. Just as soccer players play as one team to score a goal, I hope the world will work together for a common goal and attain sustainability for the current and future generations.

Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.
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