This project explores how interest in a sporting event – in this case the FIFA World Cup 2022 – can be used to influence social change, and to help green and active-living promoters from all sectors use the phenomenal power of football to change ideas and behaviour.

Impact of mega events

Mega events such as the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup are defined by the magnitude of their scale, complexity and impacts. They have the potential to involve all countries of the world, thousands of athletes, media representatives, officials, staff, volunteers, live spectators and billions in television audiences. They also necessitate the development of major infrastructure projects for housing, transport, security and facilities. Often they are repeated at regular intervals.

Behaviour change

Although events have often been associated with efforts to improve destinations, business locations, and advertise attractive places to live and work, few studies have specifically addressed mega event related leveraging for behaviour change.

“Mega sporting events have the power to inspire social change. Qatar, which suffers from high levels of diabetes and obesity as well as a high per capita carbon footprint, has the opportunity to use the FIFA 2022 World Cup to encourage people to adopt greener and more physically active lifestyles’’ Dr Eleni Theodoraki

Impact on health

There are claims that sport event hosting inspires the youth, in particular, into taking up sport. Furthermore, the UK government has commissioned research that provides insights on how to drive environmental behaviour change using large events like the Olympics.

Edinburgh Napier is working with Stenden University, Qatar to help promote greener and more active living in Qatar, a society with high carbon footprint and relatively low levels of exercise and associated health problems.

“We’re identifying opportunities to influence behaviour. We believe learnings will deliver an immediate benefit in Qatar itself, and go on to inform future policy far beyond the country’s borders.”

Research team

Interested in this project? Contact Professor Jane Ali-Knight