In June 2013, we saw Brazilians taking to the streets nationwide to protest the high cost of preparations for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The demonstrations captured in real time the Brazilians' frustrations finally bubbling over. But it also showed more vividly than ever the potential of the world's largest football event to be used as a platform for action.
The demonstrations are not a threat, but rather a stark milestone in World Cup history. It is the first time we have seen a reaction of this magnitude, where a host country has spoken up with such passion and used football to draw attention to some of its most pressing social concerns.
It's also a wake up call. The demonstrations in Brazil have alerted us that football is losing touch with society and, ultimately, its real shareholders: the fans, who live in favelas and crowded cities and other communities with real challenges that remain after the matches end. The protestors forced us to rethink the role of mega sporting events and reconsider what they should be leaving behind: in other words, their "social legacy."
streetfootballworld has long been part of this debate. We are a global network of close to 100 independent organizations that use football as a core element in local development programs. From our experience and from the work of our network members, we know first-hand that nothing can compare to football -- no product, no service, no social movement, and no other sport -- in its popularity and its potential to stimulate change. Football offers an important opportunity for development -- not just for those in need, but also those who have the resources and skills to help. The power of the sport is in its universal appeal, which can bring us together to tackle common challenges.
The 2006 World Cup in Germany was the first time we saw football's potential for social impact enter the public consciousness, taking shape in the form of a global football festival that we organized in Berlin. We took the idea to the next level at a second festival coinciding with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. There, a commitment to social change became an official part of FIFA's work, with streetfootballworld coordinating the federation's CSR strategy.
Now, the 2014 World Cup will be the next step in our quest to increase international awareness of football's potential to affect positive change. With two of the world's largest sporting events slated to take place in Brazil, they will have a huge impact on its society -- and Brazilians have already shown us their concerns. To ensure that the costs of these events do not outweigh their social and economic benefits, we need a strong commitment to a sustainable social legacy.
This is why streetfootballworld and Ashoka are teaming up to establish the first social legacy fund whose sole purpose is to benefit the sport for development sector.
Created through the Clinton Global Initiative as a Commitment to Action, the Team Brazil Social Legacy Fund (Somos tod@s titulares) will draw on the power of both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games to pool financial resources from funders all over the world in order to provide sustainable support for local, football-based development projects.
We believe that citizens should benefit from the social legacy of mega events -- but also that they should have a part in designing what that legacy will be. To this end, the fund will have an inherent bottom-up approach, as we work with member organizations in the streetfootballworld network to create an inclusive portfolio of projects for which the fund can be used.
By taking to the street, Brazilians have called on the football world -- clubs, federations, unions, sponsors, broadcasters, players and fans -- to bridge the gap between the industry and the community and to explore the sport's power to ignite social change on a global scale. Mega events have a lasting impact whether we recognize it or not -- it's time to make sure that everyone wins.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the Clinton Global Initiative, in conjunction with the latter's 2013 meeting of CGI Latin America (Dec. 8-10 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). At the CGI Latin America meeting, international leaders from business, government and NGOs join President Bill Clinton to explore how to carry the region's social and economic progress into the future. CGI members worldwide have already made more than 250 Commitments to Action specifically designed to improve lives in Brazil and across Latin America. To read all the posts in this series, click here, and visit CGI's blog here.