UEFA heralds next Homeless World Cup

UEFA's partnership with the Homeless World Cup will stretch into a ninth year when it gives full backing to the 2011 tournament taking place in Paris between 21 and 28 August.

Arsène Wenger is among those backing the Homeless World Cup in Paris in August 2011
Arsène Wenger is among those backing the Homeless World Cup in Paris in August 2011 ©AFP

UEFA is continuing to give crucial support to the Homeless World Cup – an annual competition in which football is used to motivate homeless people to change their lives.

European football's governing body is backing the ninth Homeless World Cup in Paris from 21 to 28 August next year, as UEFA shares the view of the organisers that football can play a huge role in helping the participants start off on a new path.

The city of Paris will host 64 teams – 48 in the Homeless World Cup and 16 women's teams. More than 500 players will join together on the Champs–de-Mars, in the shadow of the French capital's iconic Eiffel Tower.

The 64 teams will comprise homeless competitors from 53 nations across the globe. During the tournament, the players will demonstrate their football skills in front of an estimated 50,000-strong crowd on specially designed pitches beside one of France's most famous landmarks.

UEFA believes in solidarity and, by backing the tournament, it is promoting the development of football as a tool for reintegration. UEFA not only cares about the football part of the event; it is involved because it is socially responsible.

"UEFA has partnered the Homeless World Cup since its first edition in Graz, Austria, in 2003," said UEFA president Michel Platini. "We share its vision of helping homeless people through football. UEFA not only cares about football, UEFA cares about ending homelessness."

Internationally renowned football personalities such as Arsène Wenger, Eric Cantona, Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand have pledged their support, and former French internationals Emmanuel Petit and Lilian Thuram will act as tournament ambassadors.

The Homeless World Cup is pioneering an unprecedented radical level of change. Some 73% of players have changed their lives for the better by coming off drugs and alcohol; moving into jobs, education, homes or training programmes; reuniting with families; going on to become players and coaches; and setting up social enterprises enabling other homeless people to change their situation.

"The Homeless World Cup exists to end homelessness," said Mel Young, founder and president of the Homeless World Cup. "The impact of this competition is profound. It has engaged over 100,000 homeless people since it started and over 70% of participants have changed their lives for the better.

"The Paris 2011 Homeless World Cup is an opportunity for homeless people to move from being invisible to stand proud on a global stage, and be the true ambassadors for their country that they are."

For more details of the Homeless World Cup go to http://www.homelessworldcup.org/.