World Cup Soccer: The Good, Bad, and The Ugly

While much of the world's attention is focused on South Africa as some of the greatest names in soccer (or football, if you prefer) play for their nations, there are plenty of peripheral stories tied into this competition. What might surprise some people is existence of stories that involve the World Cup and faith.

Unfortunately, not all the stories have good endings.

The Good: The World Cup isn't the only tournament going on in South Africa this summer. In Atteridgeville, the South African World Peace Cup began on June 5th, involving 26 teams from different nations.

The Peace Cup is an initiative by Damietta Peace Initiative, a Franciscan inter-religious peace organization that has had success using soccer football as a mechanism to bring about peace, respect, and dialogue through the use of sports. Fr. Kees Thönissen OFM Cap opened the games, noted the aims of this tournament:
"bring about value change through the immediate experience of the 'other' as a human being with unique qualities and skills."
You can read more on the Peace Cup here.

The Bad: A man in South Africa killed while trying to watch the World Cup on TV.

As reported by, David Makweya, 61, was stabbed and received severe head injuries at his home Sunday night while attempting to watch the Germany-Australia game. Apparently the death was a result of an argument: his family wanted to watch a Gospel show, according to sources.

You can read more here.

The Ugly: During the one month period of the World Cup, it is estimated that 40,000 prostitutes and sex workers will be imported into South Africa. []

The South African Bishops want to bring global attention to the problem of human traffiking in their region. With the influx of people and money from the World Cup, the risk increases for impoverished people to be exploited for money. The biggest push by the South African Conference of Biships is to bring about legislation to help victims of human traffiking, while prosecuting those involved (which has become a booming business in South Africa and neighboring Mozambique.

South Africa is recognised internationally as a 'hot spot' for human trafficking – being a country of origin, transition and destination for trafficking – and there is the fear that trafficking of women and children will increase significantly during the World Cup.
You can read more here.

These events shouldn't depress or detract you from watching the World Cup. Rather they serve as a reminder of the humanity and the issues that still go on behind the scenes.

Human traffiking photo from Tampa Bay Informer.

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