World Cup Critical Thinking


This session looks at the wider issues surrounding the World Cup and the host nations. Questions help guide children through researching and reflecting on some of these issues and there are ideas and tips to help them build the skills they need to write reports, articles, poetry and stories effectively.



World Cups are about much more than football. They provide opportunities to bring people from different nations together, highlighting the differences between the competing nations as well as showing what we have in common. The host nation must invest a lot of money in new stadiums and infrastructure to accommodate all the visiting teams and fans. Hosting the World Cup also puts a nation in the spotlight, sparking interest in its history and current areas of politics and society. This activity takes a critical look at the wider topics surrounding a World Cup. It is a chance to explore some really important issues in the world as well as thinking through and forming your own opinion on them.


What you need

  • Access to the guides, ideas and questions below
  • Access to online research or alternative sources of information
  • A way to record and communicate ideas and information


What to do

  • Step 1: Research a country or issue and critically reflect on what you find out
  • Step 2: Record and communicate information, opinions and feelings


Step 1: Research and reflect

Read through the intro with children. Support them to then research and consider the different ideas and questions to reflect critically on issues surrounding World Cup competitions and the game of football more generally. There are three different sections which offer different ways to explore the subject. Choose one or more to look at.


1. An interesting resource is Oxfam’s ‘A fair game?’. It has lots of activities around inequality between countries, the pros and cons of hosting a World Cup and what rules might make it fairer. Check out the resource by following this link:


Try some of Oxfam’s activities. It focuses on the Russia 2018 World Cup, but a lot of the issues apply to other competitions and the world of modern football.


2. Look at the wider issues in past, present and future host nations for both men’s and women’s World Cups, such as Brazil, Russia, France, Qatar, Australia and New Zealand, and Northern America. Find out about a subject such as poverty, inequality, politics, or human rights.

  • What are the main issues?
  • What are the different views about it?
  • What have famous or influential people said or done about it?
  • What do you think about it?
  • How do they compare to things you know about similar issues in the UK?
  • Did you find out things that surprised you? Made you feel sad? Challenged your view of things?


3. Think about some of the issues surrounding football, such as:

  • Amounts paid to different footballers.
  • Lack of opportunities for girls and women in football.
  • Varying amounts of money and resources available to different clubs and nations.
  • Corruption in the markets and organisations in football.
  • Prejudice within football.
  • How much control sponsors and investors have over clubs and players.
  • Morality of sponsors such as gambling firms and what (if any) social responsibility clubs and players should take concerning who sponsors them.


Step 2: Record and communicate

Children choose a way to communicate what they have discovered. This can be an overview of a number of areas or they can focus on a particular issue. Children could do this as a presentation of facts and figures or they could write an emotional response through a poem or story. An emotive article could be written as a combination of facts and feeling.

Some ides:

  • Record yourself talking about it. You can do this as imagining yourself on a radio interview about it or a podcast. Alternatively it could be a spoken record of your thoughts.
  • Make an animation or slideshow that presents the issues.
  • Write it as a short report as a straightforward record of what you have found out.
  • Write a thoughtful piece of writing about it where you consider different perspectives and different people’s experiences as well as your own.
  • Write it as a special report in a newspaper with the aim to move your readers to care about the topics you are writing about.
  • Write it as a blog post focusing on one of the issues.
  • Highlight what you have found out and what you think and feel about it through a character’s experience in a short story.
  • Convey your emotions and thoughts about one or more of the issues through a poem.



  • Include statistics and quotes to back up your points and give your writing authority.
  • Use emotive language to make readers care about what you are saying.
  • Use persuasive language to encourage people to agree with you and to take action.
  • For a newspaper article, use attention-grabbing headlines and subheadings.
  • For poems and stories include powerful description and figurative language to help make readers engage with and understand your point of view and to help them experience your emotions on the subject. Facts and figures can also be powerful in a poem.