Tuesday 27 November 2018, 14:14

Players embrace enjoyable approach to ethics

  • Third edition of FIFA Ethics Workshop held at Uruguay 2018

  • Event included all tournament participants

  • Audiovisual material helped attendees learn while having fun

Anyone who offends another person with a comment about their race, colour, language, religion or origins will be suspended for _______________ matches.

“They said it in the video – it’s five matches!” pointed out Colombia captain Michell Lugo, before selecting that option on the tablet in front of her. A green tick confirmed that the answer was correct, and her four team-mates celebrated as if they had just scored a goal.

This scenario repeated itself several times during the enjoyable FIFA Ethics Workshop, which was run for the 16 nations competing at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018, and lasted from 10 to 15 November.

Its objective? To provide a discussion forum for issues like racism and discrimination, harassment and gender equality, and gifts, bribes and corruption. These topics, so important for young footballers taking their first, tentative steps onto the international stage, were dealt with in a playful way, through the use of games.

“The concept is to combine the serious side of ethics with something fun,” explained Laura Dijak, legal counsel in FIFA’s Ethics Department, and one of the representatives running the 16 workshops in the tournament’s three host cities. “We’ve been looking for the right way to tackle these issues with new tools like tablets and interactive presentations, drawing on the players’ competitive nature and desire to be the best in order to crown an ‘ethics champion’. It’s worked pretty well.”

The game

  • Each squad is divided up into teams of five or six players

  • The participants discuss and answer multiple-choice questions relating to the presentation topics and aspects that apply to women's football

  • Three points are awarded for each correct answer provided at the first attempt, while one point is awarded if the right response is given the second time around

  • The two teams with the most points play in a 'final' during which they try to head a ball between all of their team members and then into a box ('head bin challenge'), with the help of a FIFA Legend. The team that manages to hit the target most often 'wins'.

There was also time to inform the teams about the BKMS Online Reporting Tool, as well as to reflect on and talk about the subjects covered.

“The workshop was amazing – it was very interactive, and that’s what you want,” said Canada skipper Jordyn Huitema. “We were engaged throughout, and the information was clear and precise. We all took part and had a lot of fun. Personally, I think gender equality is one of the most important topics. A lot of progress has been made in recent years, but not quite to the extent that we want to see.”

Lugo was in complete agreement. “I feel like we struggle for equality on a daily basis. It’s clear to us that it can be achieved via results, that we have to give something to get something back, and that’s what we strive for,” she said.

The Colombia team is seen during the Ethics Workshop in Montevideo

Veronica Boquete, in her role as FIFA Legend, wandered around the groups and offered them help. Afterwards she chatted with the girls, who were surprised to learn about the part the Spaniard had played in getting women’s national teams included in the FIFA video game.

“My role in the workshop is that of a veteran player talking to new players about my experiences, and about issues that are important to me and to FIFA. I would have loved to play in something like this at their age, but the U-17 Women’s World Cup came too late for me!” she told FIFA.com. “It’s vital to touch on these topics now, when they’re just starting out. Because, as I say in the workshop, they have a responsibility to the future, which is to leave the game in a better condition than they found it.”

As the end of the day approached, the sound of laughter filled the room. Among the prizes were yellow and red cards, which the players enjoyed playing about with, but they did not lose sight of the most important lesson they had learnt: be prepared to do the right thing whenever necessary.

Did you know? The Ethics Workshop began as a pilot project comprising seven teams at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, and continued with 15 nations at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup France 2018. Uruguay 2018 was the first tournament in which the initiative involved all of the participating countries.