On Saturday March 3rd People & Planet at Edinburgh University hosted a Fairtrade football tournament to celebrate Fairtrade fortnight.
As part of a programme of events at the university that included Fairtrade chocolate truffle making, a Fairtrade café in the Chaplaincy and a keynote speech from Fiona Hyslop MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, around 45 Edinburgh students shunned a Saturday morning lie-in in favour of the hallowed turf of The Meadows.
With groups as diverse as the Socialist Society, The Student newspaper and the Edinburgh Revue represented on the pitch there were rivalries to be stoked and old scores to settle, but most importantly the tournament brought Edinburgh’s student community together in mutual appreciation of the simple pleasures of a weekend kickabout in the park.
Eight mixed teams competed for the grand prize of a crate of Fairtrade honey ale, with the runners-up happy to walk away with a bottle of Fairtrade South African cava. The final was as close as they come with the skilful but wheezing Edinburgh Revue comedians just losing out on penalties to the tough-tackling and pacy Seager FC after a tense 1-1 draw.
The use of Fairtrade-certified footballs in the tournament was a gentle reminder of how much our everyday lives are intertwined with those of people who may live far away yet whose labour, and often exploitation, we depend on for our nutrition, work and leisure.
Football doesn’t have the best reputation as a sport, but that is usually due to the racism, sexism, homophobia and ostentatious materialism that are often associated with it. The provenance of the physical object on which the game depends is rarely considered, yet the tools of the trade of the Premier League superstars are manufactured by workers, usually in Pakistan or China, who earn less in a year than the footballers earn from one training session.
Through our celebration of Fairtrade football we hopefully brought a bit more attention to this fact and demonstrated that there is a fairer alternative. The beautiful game doesn’t have to have an ugly underbelly, and as the most popular sport in the world it is in a unique position to act as a vehicle of social change.
Guest Blog from Joel Sharples, Edinburgh University Student
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