The social power of football comes true with the 2010 Homeless World Cup, which takes place at Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach in Brazil from 19 to 26 September. UEFA is helping to fund the competition.
The event, based around a series of street soccer matches – with teams of four competing in matches lasting seven minutes each way – aims to raise the profile of homelessness and to help people out of homelessness.
The Homeless World Cup has triggered and supports grassroots football projects in more than 70 nations, working with over 30,000 homeless and excluded people throughout the year. Twelve national women's teams will also take part in a women's competition in Rio.
UEFA is financing the project to the tune of €150,000 because it believes in solidarity. And by backing the tournament, UEFA is promoting the development of football as a tool for reintegration. UEFA not only cares about football; UEFA is involved because it is socially responsible.
Hundreds of homeless and excluded people, representing more than 60 countries – including more than 30 from Europe – are now preparing for their journey to Brazil together with their respective teams. It is a lifetime opportunity that changes lives forever.
Beating homelessness is about combating discrimination or exclusion. It is about Respect – Respect for all those who take the courage to regain self-respect and change their lives.
"Sport, particularly football, can do a lot in terms of health and re-establishing social ties that have been loosened," says William Gaillard, adviser to the UEFA president. "Since at UEFA we care about both youth and football, we feel that we could help.
"With the Homeless World Cup, we felt it met our criteria in our social responsibility strategy, while reaching a population we had not reached before. Our goals are similar in that we both want to help people enjoy life through football, so it was a natural partnership."
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