Afghanistan have won the UEFA-backed 2008 Homeless World Cup, beating Russia 5-4 in an exciting final in Melbourne, Australia.
Pick of the tournament
Undefeated all week, Afghanistan also beat Russia in the group stage and were the pick of the tournament teams, playing some splendid football to the delight of crowds of Afghan supporters. Ahead of the men's final, Zambia won the inaugural Women's Homeless World Cup with a 7-1 win over Liberia.
Homeless World Cup co-founder Mel Young said Melbourne had set a new standard for the tournament, both in terms of organisation and its effect on the city. The latter was evident throughout the week as the stands filled with cheering fans each day. A total of 56 nations, including eight all-female teams participated in the tournament, playing nearly 350 matches.
The aim of the Homeless World Cup is to raise awareness of the issues facing those on the streets and to help end homelessness and poverty worldwide. The inaugural tournament took place in Graz, Austria in 2003, uniting 18 nations. Since then it has gained great momentum in Gothenburg, Sweden (2004), Edinburgh, Scotland (2005), Cape Town, South Africa (2006) and Copenhagen, Denmark (2007). The event will visit Milan in 2009.
Since its inception five years ago, the Homeless World Cup has had a long-lasting impact on the players involved. Over 70 percent of players significantly change their lives for the better, including finding homes, employment, coming off drugs and alcohol, reconnecting with their families and even becoming coaches and football players.
The Homeless World Cup 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. By adopting a flexible and clear social responsibility policy, UEFA is supporting 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. Since 1999, UEFA has reinvested fines imposed in UEFA competitions for specific purposes such as humanitarian aid, social and educational projects.
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