Some 500 footballers from 48 nations set out on a great adventure on Sunday when the UEFA-backed Homeless World Cup begins in Copenhagen.
The competition takes place in Copenhagen's City Hall Square until 4 August. Players who are currently homeless are being given a wonderful opportunity to represent their country and change their lives, in a perfect example of football's power to act as a unifying social force.
The Homeless World Cup is an annual, international football tournament, uniting teams of people who are homeless and excluded from around the world. It also supports and inspires grassroots football projects around the world, working with homeless and excluded people throughout the year.
Moving on in life
It is estimated that 77 per cent of players change their lives for the better after participating in a Homeless World Cup, coming off drugs and alcohol, moving into homes, jobs, training, education, repairing relationships with families, and even becoming coaches and players for semi-professional and professional football clubs. An estimated 25,000 players have been trying out for a place in national teams for the event.
Crown Prince and Milton Nielsen
HRH the Crown Prince of Denmark will be watching the tournament as an extremely interested fan, and will attend the Homeless World Cup final on 4 August. Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen - who has taken charge of some of football's top matches at European and world level - will referee games at the event on Tuesday.
UEFA has backed the Homeless World Cup for several years as part of its social programme. "European football's governing body is supporting the belief that football should be used as a force for broader benefit within society, using its potential to influence attitudes and behaviour beyond the confines of the stadium," says UEFA..
Football fosters inclusion
Since 1999, UEFA has been reinvesting fines imposed in UEFA competitions for specific purposes such as humanitarian aid, social and educational projects. "The Homeless World Cup receives UEFA support because it has a strong link with football, has a set of clearly defined goals and successfully develops the use of football as a tool for fostering inclusion," UEFA explains.
Click here for more details of the Homeless World Cup
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