Fans of European football have been on an emotional rollercoaster these past few days, as a proposal for a “European Super League” provoked anger over the greed and financial inequalities the project laid bare. With public outcry about how the plans would ruin the game and widen the wealth gap in the sport, the proposal is now dead in the water.
This sharp U-turn shows the transformative potential of mobilizing sports fans, when they react to an injustice against the game they love, and also when they come together to demand a more equal, rights-respecting society.
A network of football fan groups in England is doing just that. Fans Supporting Foodbanks has mobilized during the Covid-19 pandemic to tackle rising poverty and hunger in their communities. They set aside their sporting loyalties to work together to collect and distribute food aid to those who need it.
Now, they have a petition asking the UK Parliament to formally debate putting the human right to food into national law, a move backed by most opposition parties. Once it receives 100,000 signatures, it will trigger a parliamentary debate – a necessary step to ensuring this much-needed change happens.
Human Rights Watch backs their call. The football fans’ petition echoes almost word-for-word the key recommendation from our research, which found a decade of welfare cuts and social security policy changes in the UK had left tens of thousands of people reliant on food banks or going hungry. The Covid-19 pandemic further exposed how bad hunger is in the UK, as children from families on low incomes went without food during school closures.
It is time to put the human right to food – a longstanding international promise – into domestic law.
Legal protection like this can help ensure that the people most vulnerable to economic shocks and crises, and affected by long-standing economic inequality, can feed themselves and their families. Importantly, it would make the government legally responsible for ensuring no one goes hungry.
People who love “the beautiful game” can and should get behind this petition.
Sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/562838.