Gotta play ball!

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The simulation game allows participants to analyse the contrast between different values, both on a personal level, and between national governments and civil society. The activity allows us to understand the institutional architecture of an association of national states (such as the European Union) whose values can be the basis both of the union and of a potential source of conflict. During the activity the concepts of democracy, the rule of law and freedom of the press will be put into practice.

Time 60 minutes

Material Football. Flipchart. Image of Lady Justice (American Supreme Court). Whistle

Group Size -20 people

Keywords Values, Europe, Democracy




Handbook: TEVIP Bluelines-tevip-en.png Translating European Values into Practice Download


  • Understand and impersonate conflicting values


The activity takes place outdoors. Mark a playground to turn it into a football pitch. Nearby, prepare a circle of chairs for discussions with the participants.


1. Introduce the theme of European values by asking: “Can anybody think of competing values, that is to say, two values that oppose each other?” To kick off the discussion, use the example of Justice and Mercy and show the image of the statue of Lady Justice outside the Supreme Court of the United States (which balances justice and mercy). Together, you will find other examples of conflicting values, which you can write down on the flipchart. After a brief discussion tell the participants that they are about to take part in a football match in which values as well as players are competing.

2. Split the participants into two teams and assign each one a value they have to embody. Explain to them that they have to represent the assigned value by playing. Two games will be played. In the first game the competing values will be: freedom – order. In the second game the competing values will be: equality – excellence. Before kick-off, give both teams ten minutes to decide how to embody the value (or rather, how to play while embodying the value). As an example, for freedom, the team could break all the rules. Tell them that there is no right or wrong way to interpret the value and that the important thing is to be as creative as possible.

3. Start the game. The referee does not have to follow the rules, but only note down the score. Observe the behaviour of the two teams. The general rules of football do not apply. End the game when 5 goals have been scored.


After the match, get back into the circle with all the participants and moderate a discussion using these questions as a starting point:

  • How do you feel?
  • What did we learn about values by seeing them in competition?
  • Do you believe that some values are better than others?
  • Was it difficult to interpret the values?
  • Ask the group to list the positive and negative aspects of freedom.

Repeat for the other values. Explain that often when value-based conflicts emerge, groups tend to contrast the positivity of their own point of view with the negativity of the others’ point of view. This does not help to create a peaceful environment for a discussion based on listening. Ask participants to think of examples that can represent situations of conflicting values within society and/or new stories.



The duration of the activity depends on the number of values chosen and the duration of the matches. If useful, you can decide to work on different values which you can freely choose depending on what the group brought out. You can also decide to set a duration to each game instead of waiting for 5 goals to be scored.