The growing street football tournament gets underway in Oslo next week.
The 2017 Homeless World Cup that kicks off in Oslo next week is set to become the tournament yet. 100,000 fans are expected to attend the games in person, with an anticipated worldwide live streaming audience of more than three million.
The Homeless World Cup is an annual football tournament organized by the Homeless World Cup organisation, a social organisation which advocates the end of homelessness through the sport of association football. The organisation puts together an annual football tournament where teams of homeless people from each country compete.
The 2017 tournament pairs together 72 male and female teams from 54 countries from all around the world. Games will take place on Rådhusplassen, the open square between Oslo City Hall and the Oslofjord. Teams are four-a-side with four rolling substitutions allowed. Matches consist of two seven-minute halves, so the action is fast and furious.
Favourites for this year's men's tournament will undoubtedly be Mexico, who will be looking to win their third consecutive title and therefore become the most successful country in the tournament's history. Last year Mexico trounced Brazil 6-1 in the final held in Glasgow, following their 5-2 win in the 2015 final held in Amsterdam.
Who can play?
The tournament uses the definition of homelessness from each participating nation. Individual participants must be at least 16 years old, have not taken part in a previous Homeless World Cup tournament, and meet at least one of the following criteria:
They must have been homeless at some point in the last year, make their main living income as street paper vendor, be currently in drug or alcohol rehabilitation and have been homeless at some point in the past two years. Asylum seekers currently without positive asylum status or who were previously asylum seekers but obtained residency status are also eligible.
A positive impact
During last year's Glasgow tournament, approximately NOK 100 million in social capital was generated from people getting off the street and into employment, according to the Homeless World Cup Foundation. 94% of players said the event had a positive impact on their lives, while 84% of spectators said they had a more positive attitude towards homeless people from watching the tournament.
Reena Panchal was captain of last year's India women's team. She said of her experience returning to India after the tournament: “Girls from my village have broken all barriers and superstitions and have started playing football. Not only do they play, but they are competing well. They look up to me as their inspiration and motivation.”
Actor Colin Farrell is an ambassador for the tournament. “The Homeless World Cup is about your head being up, it's about no apologies and, at the end of the day, it is about coming together through competition”, he said.
How to watch the games
The 15th edition of the Homeless World Cup will kick off at 15:00 on Tuesday 29th August. After a short opening ceremony, Norway's women’s team play Chile in the first match, followed by the men’s opening match between Norway and Brazil. If you're not in Oslo, you can catch the action via live stream on the tournament website.