Alexandra De Col, a Youth Ambassador from Italy, is weighing in on why it’s crucial that the world comes together as one to finally see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was, “teamwork, not superstars, that made Euro 2020 magical.” Everyone expected the individual stars like Ronaldo, Lukaku, and Mbappé to lead Portugal, Belgium, or France to victory. But Italy, Denmark, and Switzerland were the teams making headlines during the tournament.
And on 11 July, Italy won the European Football Championship for the first time in 53 years with a team that stood out for its strength as a group. Since the championship began, critics underestimated Italy because the team was missing a truly exceptional player. But the teams with exceptional players did not win – and many didn’t even get close. Portugal and France both didn’t even reach the quarter-finals. “United we stand, divided we fall,” the world has heard this motto countless times. But in football, we are still shocked when teams win by standing together.
The success of coming together
The past year has shown us just how strong the world can be as a united front. In early 2020, the world went into lockdown for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We all stayed home for our community’s health. During that time, we learned patience, persistence, and most of all, we learned responsibility — the responsibility we have towards our communities, towards our countries, and towards our world. We saw that, as individuals, we were making a difference by staying at home, but it took whole countries going into lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.
This taught us that each and every one of us can make a difference, but it takes a collective effort to change the world.
Although these difficult times have shown just how strong we can be when we act together, they’ve also highlighted a crucial division. According to data from the ONE Campaign, the world’s 20 wealthiest countries spent almost 20% of GDP on their economic stimulus package, while low-income countries didn’t have the resources to spend even 2% of GDP on their recovery efforts. These countries don’t have access to the financing necessary to provide their countries with appropriate healthcare and recovery plans.
This pandemic has shown us that none of us are safe until all of us are, and the world won’t be free of COVID-19 until every single person is. It also enhanced the world’s pre-existing inequalities with far too much ease. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that in 25 weeks, routine vaccine coverage across the globe fell to the level it was at in 1990 — 25 years of progress were lost in just 25 weeks. Income inequalities increased. The earnings of informal workers in Africa fell by more than 80% after just one month in the pandemic. In the US, while hundreds of thousands of workers were losing their jobs, the collective wealth of billionaires rose by $2.4 trillion. In this crisis, women were especially disadvantaged: in both high- and low-income countries, many female-dominated sectors, like the textile and service industries, declined drastically due to the pandemic.
The world must come together now
Our world needs to change. What we’ve been doing so far hasn’t been working, or at least not when it comes to fostering equity. We all deserve the same rights, we all deserve the same opportunities, and we all deserve healthcare and education. Yet for some reason, there still isn’t a united front on this matter.
“United we stand, divided we fall” is a motto that’s been ingrained into many since childhood. But when it comes to putting these words to action, we still seem to think that the world will be better off with a few “superstar” countries, leaving the rest behind. We know this won’t work, so let’s learn from Italy’s big Euros win: if divided we fall, let’s stand united.