New ways to communicate like Facebook and Twitter have the potential to turn the World Cup into something much bigger and more important than just a soccer game. Four years ago, the world cup took place in Germany, where the upper echelon of social media whizzes participated only. Since 2006, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook have exploded onto the scene of everyday life and are extremely popular in sports. Additionally, companies, since 2006, have placed a growing emphasis on the importance of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. With the evolution of CSR and social media growing and expanding every day, it may be interesting to look at various ways true change, hope and resources can be brought to such a poverty stricken area as South Africa.

The World Cup will be played on a giant global this June and this brings about many attractive CSR issues, concerns and opportunities for people and companies alike. The numbers statistically surrounding these social media networks is astounding. Nowadays, Twitter has 105 million users while Facebook has roughly 400 million users. The real time social media opportunities that will come about are overwhelming. Being that soccer is arguably the most popular sport in the world, the buzz around this sporting event will be beyond belief. People will be itching to share opinions, reactions, and triumph all over the world. They will also have the opportunity to share ideas that could benefit the people of South Africa more than ever. Positive change can be accomplished through social networking.

Now how will this be done? Africa, being the 3rd world country that it is lacks resources socially and economically. Therefore, bringing much needed resources to Africa such as food, water and better medical support can be accomplished. For this to occur, the meager reality of the area must be brought to light and made public on a global level. Social media has the opportunity to accomplish just that.

The buzz created surrounding social media networks is extremely large nowadays. Social media and CSR opportunities fit perfectly into such a media covered sporting event. Fans will be able to interact in real time by sharing this knowledge in conversations which can produce meaningful action on these matters. Hopefully, some of the dialogue and time spent on these social media sites will generate conversations on issues off the soccer field; issues that can help the people of Africa.

Some players will most likely be tweeting on the sidelines, unless banned by their team or country, and will get involved and create facilitators for these real life problems. These online conversations have the potential to produce awareness that has never been seen before in South Africa. One step to improvement deals directly with conservation and is already being demonstrated by a giant global corporation. Nike, being the tycoon of the apparel industry really has to opportunity to benefit this society. Nike is putting sustainability to good use. A few of soccer’s most recognizable faces Ronaldo, Robinho and Park will be wearing jerseys that are the most technologically advanced and are made from 100 % polyester. If this kind of awareness can be demonstrated, greater benefits to Africa will be seen.

Nike on a corporate level made it clear that all of their national teams will be wearing these jerseys. Each jersey is made from up to 8 recycled water bottles. Consequently, Nike will be diverting 13 million plastic bottles from landfills into jerseys, quite an accomplishment. Nike is exemplifying one way a large company plans to conserve.

Experts are estimating with all of the tourist traffic in South Africa during the World Cup that food shortages in the area are almost impossible to avoid. Certain reports suggest that food prices have risen in the past 6 months, making it tougher for locals to eat. Half of the population lives in poverty in South Africa and the escalation in food prices will obviously negatively affect these people. Starvation is already one of the biggest inhibitors for the general population of South Africa. Social workers cited rising food prices as a major factor in a 30% increase in child abandonment in 2003. Therefore, social media plays a major role in bring access and aid to South Africa. Green efforts toward sustainability and conservation must remain popular these people truly get the help they need.

—Chad Vivolo

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