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An assembly for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

by Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect upon the importance of playing by the rules with reference to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:

    - the 2018 FIFA World Cup logo, available at:
    - football referees, available at: and

  • If possible, have available a stopwatch, whistle, notebook, pencil, red card and yellow card.

  • Note: although reference is made here to the World Cup, this assembly could be adapted for use in the lead-up to the FA Cup Final or another major football/sporting tournament.


  1. Ask the children if they can think of an exciting sporting event that is happening soon.

    Listen to a range of responses.
  1. Show the image of the 2018 FIFA World Cup logo.

    Explain that the FIFA World Cup football tournament is going to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018.

  2. Explain that FIFA stands for ‘Fédération Internationale de Football Association’. It is responsible for organizing major international football tournaments including the World Cup, which began in 1930, and the Women’s World Cup, which began in 1991.

  3. Explain that teams from 32 nations will be taking part in this year’s competition. However, a team of 99 people from 45 different countries will also participate in the matches in some way. Ask the children to think about this and suggest how this might be possible.

    Listen to a range of responses.
  1. Ask the children, ‘How many people are on the pitch during a football match?’

    Listen to a range of responses.
  1. Establish that there are 22 players (11 on each side) on the pitch, but there are actually 23 people in the playing area, with another two running alongside the edges. The referee and the referee’s assistants are often overlooked, but they have a vital part to play.

  2. Show the images of the football referees and, if available, the stopwatch, whistle, notebook, pencil, red card and yellow card.

    Ask the children what each item is used for and why it is essential for a football match.

  3. Establish that a referee ensures that a football match is played according to the laws (or rules) of the game.

    The referee is the only person who can stop and start play, and he or she uses a stopwatch and whistle to do this. If there is misconduct on the pitch, where players haven’t kept to the rules, referees can caution players by using a yellow card, or send them off by using a red card.

    Everyone must follow and respect the referee’s decisions. The referee must be absolutely fair to both sides.

  4. Invite everyone to consider why playing by the rules is important. Establish that the laws of a game keep everyone safe. They also aim to keep the game flowing freely so that football is enjoyable to play and watch. The World Cup is only possible because teams from many different countries play to the same set of rules, which are set by FIFA.

  5. Reflect that referees must make difficult decisions. Sometimes, they make mistakes, and they are often criticized by supporters. Point out that video assistant referees will be used for the first time during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. However, the referees will still need to make quick decisions that could be widely criticized.

  6. Invite the children to imagine that they are the referee at an important football match. Ask them how they would feel.

    Listen to a range of responses.
  1. Ask the children, ‘Why is respect for the referee important?’ Observe that, without a referee to enforce the rules, it would be impossible to enjoy a fair and safe game.

  2. Conclude by reflecting that the presence of the referee at a football match highlights the importance of playing by the rules. Fairness, safety and cooperation are also essential in the wider world.

  3. Ask the children, ‘How will regard for rules and respect for other people enable members of the school community to enjoy teamwork and achieve their goals today?’

Time for reflection

Fairness, safety and cooperation are essential if enjoyment is to be found in most aspects of our lives in the wider world.

Christians believe that a statement made by Jesus gives them an important guideline or rule for their lives: ‘love God, love your neighbour and love yourself’. (An alternative phrasing could be ‘respect God, respect others and respect yourself’.)

Ask the children to consider what rules they think are important for their own lives and for their lives within the school community.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Prayer (A Referee’s Prayer)
Dear God,
Help me to know right from wrong,
To judge fairly
And to respect others, today and always.


‘The School Rule Song’ (Songs for Every Assembly, Out of the Ark Music). A clip of this song (0.58 minutes long) is available at:

Publication date: June 2018   (Vol.20 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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