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5 December 2010

World Cup Debates - this time and next time‏

The global debating competition that is the World Cup Debates 2010-11 has begun with four debates between eight teams. They represented Asia, Europe, North America and South America. The contest is sponsored by the World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont and the EDEBATING website that will be launched in 2011. The contest allows teams from all over the world to engage in demanding competitive debates without spending any money.

See all the information and debates at

A topic is assigned, teams are paired randomly into a double elimination bracket, sides are assigned and the debate begins. Affirmative teams videotape a first speech and upload it to the Vimeo website. Then, that speech is pasted into the World Cub Debates website and then the other team has 72 hours (although there is some flexibility) to upload the next speech. After all the speeches are done, three assigned judges watch the debate, come to a decision and vote. Judges may or may not wish to publish text or video reasons for decision. One interesting thing about these debates is that they can take place in any language that the two teams determine. For example, in the first round the debate betweenUniversidad Central de Venezuela and Universidad Andres Bello of Chile was held in Spanish and judged by Spanish-speaking adjudicators. Three students are in each debate, although the teams can switch debaters from debate to debate.

The first round has now completed. The topic was, “Now is the time for a Palestinian state.” The debates were between:

Assumption University of Thailand vs. Peking University of China
University of Belgrade from Serbia vs. University of Vermont of the USA
Comunidad de Debate Venezuela vs. Cornell University of the USA
Universidad Central de Venezuela vs. Universidad Andres Bello of Chile

The winners were Assumption University of Thailand, the University of Vermont of the USA, Cornell University of the USA and Universidad Andres Bello of Chile. In round two these winners now go on to meet each other. The losers of round one now go on to debate each other with the loser of that debate being eliminated. The full schedule is now available at the website. The second round topic comes from the WUDC finals in Turkey, “The press should show the full horrors of war.” Speeches will begin appearing on the website this week.

Alfred Snider, convener of the event, noted several advantages of this debating format. “It is really an idea whose time has come,” he said, “and teams from all over the world can debate each other and travel, costs, distance and time are no longer barriers. If two teams share the same language, they can debate in that language, but English remains the default language. Those who are not native speakers have the opportunity to practice their speech many times and tape it until they get it right, as can any participant. This makes for excellent quality and argumentation. I look forward to expanding this contest in the future.”

Future plans involve having a much larger field in 2011-12 and copying some of the structure from the world cup of football, with teams coming from all parts of the world. “We might have groups as the football contest does, or we might just stick to a much larger double elimination format,” said Snider. “Those who participate will have input and a committee formed by the World Debate Institute will decide. That committee is now being formed. ”

University and college teams who wish to participate in the 2011-12 contest should send notes of interest to the convener at

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