Evaluating conflict mitigation and health improvement through soccer: a two-year study of Mifalot’s ‘United Soccer for Peace’ programme

Tal Litvak-Hirsch, Yair Galily, Michael Leitner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


War not only has a direct impact on health through its direct physical consequences but also through the stress experienced by all those directly and indirectly affected by it. Therefore, conflict mitigation efforts can make a significant positive impact on health. In Israel, a country that has experienced a great deal of conflict, utilizing sports to foster peaceful relations and coexistence is an idea that has gained popularity in recent years. The aim of this article is to examine in-depth, using social psychological theoretical lenses one project, Mifalot’s ‘United Soccer for Peace’ soccer coaching certification course. The course trains adult Arab and Jewish soccer coaches in mixed groups, as well as to teach them peace education values and tools. This study examined the successes and challenges of this project in contributing to conflict mitigation and health improvement. Some of the specific questions addressed were: Why did many Arab participants leave the project in its early stages? What can be done to improve this project and similar projects like this in the future? There were 63 coaches, Israeli Arabs and Jews interviewed. In general, the results provide evidence that sports can contribute to coexistence and improved health with the right theoretical understanding, planning and organization. Achievements as well as challenges of the project are discussed and recommendations for improvement and implementation to other conflict areas are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-224
Number of pages16
JournalSoccer and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Mar 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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