The Internet is a great place to start a charitable campaign. If your message is rock solid and the destination for your funds instantly believable, serious funds can be raised. The message and the destination are intrinsically linked.
‘Cancer kills — we still need to find a cure – donate to cancer research’ is clearly defined and motivates people to donate on an instant global scale. Anyone can be affected by cancer and we trust those seeking to find a lasting cure. Give people a cause they can believe in and great things can be achieved.
When it comes to fund raising for this game we all love there is a similarity, but the message is less clear. ‘Soccer improves lives — help us introduce children to the game — donate to soccer’ sounds great, but it is way too general to convince. It provokes too many questions. ‘What is ‘soccer’?’ for a start.
If soccer is the people’s game, how do you give so all people benefit and no one is left out?
There are many soccer programmes to choose. From repairing your local pitch to FIFA’s ‘Goal’ the donor is spoilt for choice.
The local pitch is seemingly a brilliant place to start. Supporting the grassroots is vital to the future of the game. The problem is that you are restricted to fundraising locally. Not many people in Chicago or Sydney are going to dig deep because Allendale Town’s outside toilets and coffee shed need drastic work. They aren’t going to dig deep for a national campaign either, no matter how worthy. To someone in Hyderabad or Tokyo a plea to help Portuguese orphans learn how to play isn’t likely to earn much more than a passing nod.
The same issue can be transposed to the continents. Africa is perhaps a different matter and rightly so. The continent has suffered its fair share of heartbreak. Darfur or Sierra Leone are great places to start for anyone in doubt. The millions of refugees suffering the effects of war and tribal bigotry might just be able to find a reason to believe with a football at their feet. Kicking a ball between friends could make all the difference to a child in Freetown wondering what the point is.
Craig Bellamy and Patrick Vieira are just two of many players quietly working away with the aim of improving lives through the simple joy of the game we all love. It should be a no-brainer handing over to them a large cheque, but something still nags.
What about the other continents? Are they somehow less in need of support? Isn’t just giving to Africa being selective? It almost certainly is, so FIFA should be the perfect destination. Their ‘Goal’ programme is global. No one territory or local interest is more important than another to them. FIFA is also the guardian of the game. They are the natural choice.
Would you work hard to raise money and then hand it over to FIFA? You might, (although twenty minutes on transparencyinsport.org might change your mind). I wouldn’t. The one organisation that should be a no-brainer destination for the cheque is almost the last place it would go to.
This is a huge shame, not just for the people who actually end up benefiting from the programme, but also for the soul of the game. Trust between ordinary fans and FIFA can never have been at a lower point. If fund raisers have to think twice about sending them money, surely their game is up?
Take Jack Warner, FIFA’s best mate in the Caribbean, for instance. His part of the FIFA empire could do with some serious assistance in boosting its facilities for the beautiful game. They may get some money, but it all goes through under his nose. I’d prefer to buy Allendale Town some new toilets, thanks.
Back to square one. What is the best destination for that fat cheque? How do you make sure everyone benefits? With a rock solid message and believable destination in place millions can be raised, but can one ever be found? Can there ever be an equation that all lovers of the people’s game can believe in?