In two days time, Nigeria will play Bosnia and Herzegovina in a match that could end Bosnia and Herzegovina's World Cup journey. As overall Cup points and world ranking currently stand, the two teams are well evenly stacked on the pitch. But the fact 'at home' is that a child born in Nigeria is more than 18 times more likely to die before age five than a child born in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The question asked in a recent article "A World (Cup) of Difference: The poorest World Cup Nations" that highlights the inequality in nations represented at the World Cup tournament is: Should the World Cup be a time where we simply ‘put aside’ our differences? Or is it a time to highlight them?
As a campaign and movement that harnesses the passion and power of sport to tackle the major inequality of nutrition in Asia, the World Cup is indeed a time to highlight differences. Knowledge creates awareness. Awareness, movement. Movement, change. The inspiring message of the World Cup is unity despite difference. We hope it is this kind of unity that will mobilise football fans and players worldwide to tackle issues of inequality on our home fields -- issues like malnutrition in Asia that affects more than 200 million children in the region.
There is a world of difference in living standards between the World Cup countries. Some key indicators about countries that will play each other on the soccer pitch, reflecting just how different life is, are shown in the table below.
A baby born today in the Ivory Coast is likely to live around half as long as a child born in Japan. An infant growing up in Nigeria has more than a one in eight chance of dying before the age of five, while an infant in Bosnia has less than one in a hundred chance. People living in Honduras are around 100 times more likely to be murdered than those in France. A young adult in the United States will almost certainly receive tertiary education, while in Ghana only one in eight young adults receive some kind of tertiary education.
As you're watching the World Cup this year, remember that the playing field isn't always even.
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All sources: World Bank, World Development Indicators