November 26, 2013
Sport must be used to resolve global conflicts more often and more effectively says Formula 1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi.
The Laureus Academy Member and two-time World Champion urged authorities to invest in grassroots sports programmes as a core element of building bridges and removing the causes of tension between people and communities.
Fittipaldi said: “The world faces great challenges. Conflicts may increase rather than decrease. If we keep trying the same solutions, we will end up with the same results. The need for innovation in conflict resolution is high.”
Making a keynote speech at the UNESCO Conference on Sport and Human Development to 200 delegates, Fittipaldi also quoted several examples of Laureus-supported charity projects which use sport as a tool to resolve conflicts. He told the delegates of a visit made by Edwin Moses and former British Paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson to Ramallah in the West Bank and Gonen in East Jerusalem to visit projects which build bridges between Palestinian and Israeli children who would never normally come into contact with each other in a social setting.
Fittipaldi recalled: “I remember Edwin telling me afterwards ‘If ever you want an example of how sport can bring people together in a way that governments cannot, this was it. I felt like I was seeing history at first hand’.”
Laureus began its work in Brazil in 2004, supporting the Luta Pela Paz project, which uses boxing and martial arts to tackle violence and the impact of armed gangs in the favela of Mare in Rio de Janeiro.
Bola Pra Frente, a sport for development project supported by Laureus since July 2012, is an initiative of World Cup winner Jorginho that helps socially vulnerable young people. And Gol de Letra, created by soccer legends Rai and Leonardo, which began to receive Laureus support in October 2012, helps more than 1,000 children each year with courses on knowledge, culture and citizenship.
He finished his speech by saying: “Sport will not – by itself - solve or prevent conflicts. But it can form a vital part of peace building strategies which address the underlying causes of conflict. The projects we support around the world continue to prove this year after year. Playing sport together can help people co-exist in harmony.”
In recent years, Laureus has begun creating new training programmes in how to use sport as a tool for social change. This work is being supported by an increasing body of research, commissioned by Laureus, to prove the impact sport is having on social issues such as conflict resolution worldwide.
This research is being used to quantify the extent to which sport provides cost effective solutions to social ills in the eyes of global businesses, financial institutions, world leaders, governments and opinion formers to help secure the future of the sport for good movement around the world.