Sacramento hosted the 2023 Homeless World Cup last week, a soccer tournament aiming to change negative perceptions of homelessness. This is the first year the tournament was played in the U.S.
The event, which was held from July 8 to July 15, had teams from 30 nations represented. All of the players have experienced homelessness within the past year. Men, Women, and Co-Ed teams were represented in the tournament. There were two games per team each day until the Saturday finals.
The Homeless World Cup was founded in 2003 by Scottish and Austrian social entrepreneurs Mel Young and Harald Schmied. Young and Schmied have always been passionate about addressing homelessness.
Schmied was running a street paper in 2002 for individuals experiencing homelessness. During a conference for the paper, he and Young realized unhoused people were not represented in the conversation. When the two men began brainstorming a way to include unhoused people in the international dialogue, the concept for the Homeless World Cup was born.
“It was a lively and animated conversation and we both imagined a colorful football competition which would change people’s lives,” Young said.
The event serves as a platform to challenge stereotypes by showcasing the talents and resilience of individuals who have experienced homelessness. The tournament also encourages rehabilitation by working with grassroots organizations worldwide to assist unhoused populations and dismantle stigmas.
With over 100,000 individuals vying for around 500 player positions, the Homeless World Cup has gained global attention this year. Thousands tuned in live each day to watch the tournament.
Mexico and Chile took home this year’s victory after an intense eight day battle.
You can watch the recorded tournament and learn more about the Homeless World Cup here: https://www.homelessworldcup.org/