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Homeless World Cup: The guide to Cardiff 2019

Thursday 25th July 2019
Homeless World Cup Wales

A summer jam-packed with exciting international football gradually winds down. Prior to European leagues taking centre stage, there's one last showing for national sides. The Homeless World Cup

The FIFA U20 World Cup ushered a busy period. The UEFA Nations League finals soon followed. Then arrived the Women's World Cup accompanied by the Copa America, Africa Cup of Nations and Gold Cup. Those competitions divided loyalties. The Homeless World Cup will unite them.   

The tournament, held annually, uses football to help homeless people learn to trust and build relationships. The latest edition takes place in Cardiff, from 27 July to 3 August.

What is the tournament all about?

The showpiece is a men's and women's competition run by the Homeless World Cup organization, a social group which endeavours to end homelessness through the beautiful game.

Its maiden edition in 2003 was hosted and won by Austria. Teams from 18 nations took part. Now ready for its 17th staging, the tournament in Bute Park will feature 64 sides representing over 50 countries. 

More than 500 players are expected to travel to the Welsh capital. There are six trophies up for grabs in total. Four men's/mixed, two women's.  

What does it mean to be homelessness?

It varies in relation to each country. If a member nation has a definition of homelessness, that is applied to determine eligibility. Should such not be in place, working definitions according to NGOs or academics are used.  

What is the eligibility criteria?

As per the Homeless World Cup Foundation, players must be at least 16 years old and not have taken part in a previous edition. Each participant should also satisfy at least one of the criteria below.

- Have been homeless at some point in the last year, in accordance with the national definition of homelessness.

- Make their main income as a street paper vendor.

- Be asylum seekers without positive status or previous asylum seekers with obtained residency.

- Attend drug or alcohol rehabilitation and have been homeless at some point in the past two years.  

What are the playing rules?

Each team fields a maximum of four players – one goalkeeper, three outfielders. Four substitutes are allowed. The games are 14 minutes long, split into two seven-minute halves. The pitch is 22 x 16 metres. The goalkeeper cannot leave the penalty area.

Winning sides receive three points. Should the score end level, a sudden-death penalty shootout determines the result.

Which teams have won previously?

Brazil and Mexico are the most dominant sides, claiming three World Cups each. Chile, Italy and Scotland have two wins apiece. In addition to Austria, Afghanistan, Russia and Ukraine all have one success.  

Who are the big names involved in Cardiff?

Michael Sheen played a key role in bringing the Homeless World Cup to Wales. Writing in a special edition of The Big Issue, the acclaimed actor said: “I became part of being awarded the bid to bring it to Cardiff and have been working on shaping the event ever since."

Sheen isn't the only celebrity participating. Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield, Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, Gwenno, The Joy Formidable as well as former Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci singer, Euros Childs are among the acts playing live on a stage coordinated by PYST.

Retro rock four-piece Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard will perform the official 2019 Homeless World Cup song.

What else to expect? 

Cardiff's showpiece isn't merely about football. There's plenty of live music, street food and public speaking talks to enjoy.

The Green Man Festival hosts a stage containing some of the countries' hottest music acts. A debate tent hosted in collaboration with The Bevan Foundation, an independent think tank, provides a space for high-profile speakers to engage the public. It's aimed at educating on issues such as inequality and injustice, working toward innovative solutions.   

What is the estimated attendance?

Over 20,000 spectators watched the competition's debut 16 years ago. Almost three times as many are expected to grace this year's event. At 56 hectares (equivalent to 75 football pitches), the historically landscaped Bute Park is among the largest of its kind in Wales. 

Click here to find out how you can help the Homeless World Cup.

Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 


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