Paris Saint-Germain FC's new record signing Javier Pastore has lent his support to the Homeless World Cup taking place in Paris this week by visiting the event and underlining the difference football can make to the lives of all players.
Argentinian international Pastore, PSG's recent €42m signing from US Città di Palermo, is a friend of Sergio Rotman who is coaching Argentina's Homeless World Cup team. It was no surprise then that the 22-year-old playmaker came to the tournament's Champ de Mars venue to wish his countrymen luck.
"This event is fantastic, very interesting," said Pastore. "I have come to meet the players and offer them support. I hope they are enjoying the opportunity football gives them to change their lives. Football can take you away from many problems and help you meet new people."
The opening matches in the second round of the men's competition were held on Wednesday following the completion of the initial group stage. England, Lithuania, Poland and the Netherlands all impressed by winning their first round pools and it was the English who featured in the first game of the second stage – being edged out 8-7 by Nigeria.
Also in Group A, Scotland made a fine start by beating Poland 9-8 while Lithuania continued their good form with a 7-2 victory over the Republic of Ireland in Group B. Meanwhile, two all-European match-ups in Group D saw Italy defeat the Netherlands 8-7 and Russia overcome neighbours Ukraine 6-2.
In the women's event, the first round continues with Norway faring best of the European nations with four wins from their opening five games. They sit three points behind Group B leaders Brazil, who have caught the eye by scoring 56 goals in maintaining a 100% record.
A total of 182 matches have been played in the men's and women's tournaments over the first four days with plenty to keep the Paris crowd entertained. All games are four-a-side and comprise two halves of seven minutes; matches level after 14 minutes are decided by a penalty shoot-out.
A UEFA-supported event, the Homeless World Cup aims to fight the exclusion suffered by the homeless and to encourage them to change their lives, while also drawing attention to the problem of homelessness around the world.
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