The impact of worldwide sporting events on children

by Terre des hommes | Terre des hommes (Tdh) - Switzerland
Thursday, 19 June 2014 08:16 GMT

Tdh/Flurina Rothenberger

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The impact of worldwide sporting events on children

In the midst of the World Cup frenzy, supporters are making their predictions and revelling in following the matches of their favourite team. However, while the International Federation of Terre des Hommes (TDHIF), in collaboration with its member organisations and Terre des Hommes in Lausanne (Tdh), recognise the benefits of sport, they nevertheless remind us of the less festive outcomes that numerous children are confronted with during such events.

The hidden face of the festivities

A study conducted by a British university in July 2013, together with the daily work of NGOs in the field, attests to the risks affecting local host populations, and in particular children, which are associated with sporting events.

The forced resettlement of whole sections of the population to make room for sports fields and other infrastructure affects families that are already highly vulnerable. These resettlements notably increase the risk of children in the host country dropping out of school. Numerous voices are also condemning the use of public funds for ends other than the construction of social services such as health centres and schools, which would be even more beneficial to the local population. Other pre-existing problems at such events, like sexual exploitation, are heightened during World Cups and the Olympic Games.

Today, the lack of precise numerical data surrounding the impact of sporting events on the daily lives of children does not signify in the least the absence of a problem and nor does it justify inaction.

Changing the game of mega sporting events

As a result, last February the TDHIF, in collaboration with its member organisations and with the support of the Oak Foundation, launched the international project “Children Win”.

  • Creating awareness around the impact of sporting events on children

The first stage of the project consists of gathering factual evidence and personal accounts from children. The intent here is to create large-scale awareness about the dangers experienced by children before, during and after big sporting events, such as sexual exploitation, extreme working conditions, violence, forced resettlement and the negative effects that ensue. In addition, the project condemns the use of public funds for ends other than the construction of necessary public services requested by the local population.  

  • Calling on FIFA, the Olympic Committee and host-nation governments to protect children

TDHIF draws the attention of the public in order to lobby the different stakeholders concerned – the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the Olympic Committee and host-nation governments. The Federation TDH calls expressly on these stakeholders to take into consideration the interests of all children when organising and carrying out large-scale sporting events.

  • Preserving the beauty of sport

The host and visitor nations, sponsors, local and international organisations and the civil society must coordinate their actions to establish standards that protect children during the course of sporting events on an international level.

For more information on the project:

Every year, Terre des hommes offers sustainable solutions and a better future for over two million children and their relatives. Learn more about our projects (