THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

{mosimage} 13 June ~ The World Development Movement have ranked the World Cup competitors according to various socio-economic criteria to determine the “best” country to support. Pontus Westerberg explains

Who are you cheering for in the World Cup? If not England, then perhaps a team that plays attractive football, like Brazil, a team that contains players from the club team that you support, or for the home nation, South Africa. At the World Development Movement we wanted to take this idea a bit further and use the World Cup to get people to discuss issues of social injustice, poverty and inequality.

TWhy is it that the US, the richest country in the World Cup, gives so little aid? How come Nigeria is the poorest country in the World Cup, despite having among the world’s largest oil reserves? How come South Africa is battling with problems of poverty and inequality?

To answer these questions, we’ve created a website which ranks all the countries in the World cup based on their issues to combat poverty and social injustice. We’ve used indicators such as carbon emissions per capita, maternal mortality rates and income inequality to come up with an index over the most supportable teams.

Of course, the rankings are not scientific, nor do they represent the official views of the World Development Movement on the countries involved, but we see it as a way to start a conversation about serious issues.

We think inequality is a bad thing, so countries do better the more equal they are, and the more women they have in government. Similarly, we don’t like climate change, so countries do better the less carbon dioxide they emit per person.

We like to cheer for the underdog, so countries do better in our rankings the poorer they are. Similarly, we give an extra boost of support for the countries which have qualified for the World Cup despite having lots of people going hungry every day. The result? Four rich European countries are in the top ten (Holland, Spain, Germany, Switzerland) while high-poverty South Africa is down at 28. Ghana is one of three African countries in the top five, along with Latin American Paraguay and Honduras.

So why does Ghana come out on top? It spends very little on the military and has very low carbon emissions. It’s a poor country with a lot of hunger. It is mid-table for equality and women in government, and only scores badly on maternal mortality. And why does the US come so low? It’s the richest country with the highest carbon emissions and the largest military spending. It also scores poorly due to its high level of inequality and the low level of aid it gives. Despite being so rich, it only comes mid-table on maternal mortality. The US is also mid-table for women in government. So, go ahead, get involved. Who are you going to cheer for?

Comments (5)
Comment by delicatewildebeest 2010-06-13 11:19:56

Honduras in the top 5? What about that coup last year?

Comment by Dalef65 2010-06-13 13:18:18

Who am I going to cheer for?
A football team - ie I will base my support(or lack thereof)on what goes on on the pitch thank you very much!
There are so many contradictions and half-baked "truths" in this piece that my eyes are spinning.
There are also many places to post this sort of stuff,without needing to latch on to the World Cup

Comment by liamthebulgar 2010-06-13 20:57:51

well said Dalef65
Why is this article even on here? Did all the anti-american, anti-capitalist anti-everyhing websites close down?
If I was forced to 'choose' a team on moral grounds I could do it without reading biased tosh like this.

Comment by Jongudmund 2010-06-14 12:52:16

Why give an extra boost to countries with hungry populations? Surely that begs a question over prioritisation in those countries. Shouldn't governments be feeding people not funding world cup campaigns.

This whole experiment seems a bit screwy to me.

Comment by innocent bystander 2010-06-14 14:48:07

This is wrong for all possible reasons.

"It's a poor country with a lot of hunger" and it's cynical to put Ghana on top because of that and for the low carbon emissions.

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