Spirit of the Ball
BY MURAD ABU EISHEH
One ball, one world – one bus. Their destination is the football World Cup in Russia, their plan is to bring people from different countries closer together. Andrew, Benni, Sven and a small group from their initiative “Spirit of Football” set off in a minibus. From London they make their way all across 20 countries in Europe and the Middle East towards Moscow. Their luggage contains not much more than a football and the group’s overwhelming idealism.
On their journey the team makes encounters happen between the most different people, nations and cultures. They cross crisis-shaken countries in Europe and the Middle East – Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Jordan, amongst others. Time and again they seek contact with strangers, get into conversations and talk about their mission: They use football to connect people, reduce prejudices, strengthen the idea of an accessible Europe and fight racism.
While crossing country’s frontiers, they sometimes even reach their own limits – on a personal level, within the group and in contact with other people. But they never lose heart. No matter if at a friendly match with refugees, while meeting the mayor of Istanbul or in the middle of a traffic jam at a boarder control – the beloved mascot comes in handy: a football that has become more and more colorful throughout the trip, featuring thousands of signatures from all those, who connect with the values of “Spirit of Football”. The group encourages itself and the people they meet to believe in a future full of mutual help and understanding in which communities will be build, as colorful as the football itself at the end of its journey.
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