The City of Milan and Italian partners welcomed the UEFA-backed Homeless World Cup to its next destination on Monday, with a vow to make the competition's seventh edition a "phenomenal success".
The countdown to the 7th Homeless World Cup, which takes place in Milan between 6 and 13 September, got under way with a news conference at the Italian city's Sala dell'orologio di Palazzo Marino. Homeless World Cup president Mel Young said: "It is wonderful to be here in this beautiful city – thank you Milan, for your bid to host and make the 7th Homeless World Cup a phenomenal success." The event receives UEFA backing because it has a strong link with football, has a set of clearly defined goals, and successfully develops the use of football as a means of fostering inclusion.
'Journey of social reintegration'
With the City of Milan, Italy's Ministry of Defence and Red Cross Italy also announcing their support for the championship to be staged at the Arena Civica, Sempione Park, the mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, said: "We are thrilled that Milan will host the Homeless World Cup, in which 480 homeless people from 48 different countries will participate. [It is] an event that is not only a sports event but which represents a stage in [a] journey of social reintegration which has so far yielded extraordinary results." UEFA, through its social responsibility policy, upholds the belief that football should be used as a tool for broader benefit within society, employing its potential to influence attitudes and behaviour beyond the confines of the stadium.
'Come and watch'
Mel Young added: "There are one billion people homeless in our world today. This is not sustainable and it is incumbent on all of us to do something. We would love to invite Milan to really get behind this global football tournament. [I say] to the people of the city, come and watch, come and volunteer. We'd like to invite partners and sponsors, football clubs, players and media, to get behind the 2009 Homeless World Cup and show the world Milan's contribution to the power of football to change lives."
The 48 competing nations will represent all five continents of the globe – from Argentina to Brazil, England to Germany, Australia to Cambodia, Hong Kong to India, and Ghana to Malawi. Italy, two-times Homeless World Cup winners, will be targeting the trophy that was lifted by Afghanistan in Melbourne in December 2008. More than 70 per cent of players involved experience a significant life change: coming off drugs or alcohol; moving into homes, jobs, education, training; repairing relationships; becoming coaches or players with semi-pro teams, even social entrepreneurs.
The Homeless World Cup has engaged over 100,000 players and has triggered football programmes in more than 70 nations. Since 1999, UEFA has reinvested monies from fines imposed in UEFA competitions into this and numerous other projects, assisting social, educational and humanitarian causes. Previous editions of the Homeless World Cup have been held in Graz, Austria (2003); Gothenburg, Sweden (2004); Edinburgh, Scotland (2005); Cape Town, South Africa (2006); Copenhagen, Denmark (2007); and Melbourne, Australia (2008).
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