(1) Players

  • Mandatory criteria:
    • Be at least 16 years old (must have turned 16 before 01.07.2019) ▪ Have not taken part in previous Homeless World Cup tournaments
  • Players must meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • Have been homeless at some point after 01.07.2018, in accordance with the national definition of homelessness
    • Make their main living income as street paper vendor
    • Be asylum seekers currently without positive asylum status or who were previously asylum seekers but obtained residency status after 01.07.2018
    • Currently in drug or alcohol rehabilitation and also have been homeless at some point in the past two years (post 01.07.2017)


(2) Teams

  • In the Men’s/Mixed tournament, teams can be all male or a mix of male and female players; In the Women’s tournament, teams are all female. All teams are required to bring a full team of 8 players to the tournament.
  • Maximum of 4 players per team on the court:
    • 3 outfield players
    • 1 goalkeeper
    • plus 4 substitute players (‘flying’ or ‘rolling’ substitutions apply)
  • As an inclusive tournament, it is expected that each player will play a reasonable amount of time each day. If teams are found not giving players this opportunity, they will be warned. If teams persist in not using the full squad of 8 players, they will be penalised accordingly at the discretion of the Sports Committee.


(2a) Reserve Team

  • At each annual competition the host nation will select a full reserve team consisting of 10 players, including 2 goalkeepers. They will wear the colours of their national team during the parade.
  • Each morning of the competition, the manager of any team can ask to have a player from the reserve team if they have three or more of their players injured or unavailable. The names of the injured players must be submitted in writing to the Sports Director. They are not allowed to play during that day.
  • The manager from the reserve team will select players on a strict rotational basis. Teams cannot demand one particular player from the reserve team. This will allow reserve team players to participate. Reserve team players wear the national strip of the team they are playing for. Players are only available during that day.
  • The selection process is followed in exactly the same way in subsequent days. It is likely that a team applying for reserve players on consecutive days will be allocated the same reserve player.
  • Reserve players can play for teams who are playing against the home nation. For example, a player selected from the reserve team can play against Wales.
  • The host country will have additional players on standby in the eventuality that all of the reserve team is needed by other teams. The Head of Sport will make an assessment at the end of each day about the likely demand for reserve team players during the following day.
  • The reserve team will all receive medals. They will go up together as a team to collect their medals at the final ceremony.
  • Reserve players will still be eligible to play for their national team at future Homeless World Cup tournaments so long as they meet the mandatory criteria.


(3) Duration of Matches

  • Two halves of 7 minutes each plus a one-minute interval in between each half.


(4) Start

  • The match starts when the referee throws the ball into the court. When a goal is scored, the team that has conceded the goal receives the ball and the goalkeeper is allowed to bring the ball back into play immediately after the referees’ whistle.


(5) Goalkeeper Rules

  • A goalkeeper may not score goals.
  • The goalkeeper must not leave the penalty area.
  • The goalkeeper must not hold the ball longer than necessary in his penalty area (“playing for time”).
  • The goalkeeper must not distribute the ball from his hands overarm (the ball should be distributed underarm, i.e. below shoulder height). If the goalkeeper does not distribute the ball underarm, a free kick will be awarded to the other team at the half way line.
  • A pass back rule applies. If a goalkeeper picks the ball up with his hands after receiving a pass back from a teammate, the other team is awarded a penalty.


(6) Rules for Penalty Area

  • Outfield players must not enter the penalty area. This rule applies to both attacking and defending players (“fishing for the ball” is not allowed).
  • If a player from the defending team enters the penalty area, the other team receives a penalty.
  • If a player from the attacking team enters the penalty area, the other team receives a free kick.


(7) One Player always in Opposition Half

  • At least one player must remain in the opposition half of play. A foul will be awarded against a team where the whole team is in its own half.
  • If a player in a team receives a blue card, then while the team is a player or more down this rule will not apply. Similarly, this rule will not apply if a player in a team receives a red card.


(8) Time-wasting

  • The referee can award a penalty against a team which is persistently time-wasting after the team has been first warned about its conduct.


(9) Penalty Kicks

  • A penalty for the opposing team is given when:
    • A player from the defending team enters the penalty area.
    • A team passes back three times in a row directly to their own goalkeeper with the intention of time wasting (without a player from the opposing team having had the chance to touch the ball).
    • If the goalkeeper holds the ball longer than necessary in his penalty area (“playing for time”).
    • If the goalkeeper picks up the ball with his hands when he receives a back pass from a player on his own team.
    • Due to foul play in front of the goal area.
  • A penalty kick must be taken towards the goal. If the ball moves backwards from the goal the penalty is lost.


(10) Rules for Free Kicks and Out Balls (10a) Free Kicks

  • All free kicks are indirect. All players of the opposing team must be a minimum of 2 metres from the ball when a free kick is being taken.
  • The referee awards a free kick for:
    • All fouls on the field except for any offence, which is seen as a “penalty offence”
    • If a player seeks to gain an advantage by holding the perimeter board with both hands.

(10b) Out Balls

  • If a ball goes out of play over the board the ball must be rolled in by hand at ground level at the position where the ball went out of the field of play. All players of the opposing team must be a minimum of 2 metres from the ball at the roll-in point.
  • If a ball goes out of play on behind the goal:
    • By the attacking team: the goalkeeper receives the ball and kicks or throws the ball back in.
    • By the defending team: The attacking team receives a corner and rolls the ball in by hand at ground level. All players of the opposing team must be a minimum of 2 metres from the roll-in corner.


(11) Fouls

  • In the event of a foul or unfair play the referee may judge as follows:
  • Blue card (two minutes time exclusion): For foul play a player will be excluded from the match for two minutes during which time the team has to play with one less player. A player given a blue card will be sent off for two minutes and not allowed back on. After two minutes have elapsed the player given the blue card will be replaced by another player from the team.
  • Red card (match penalty): for serious foul play a player is excluded from the rest of the match. The team has to play with one less player for the remainder of the match. A red card will only be given for serious foul play, violent conduct or abuse of the referee. The player will be sent off immediately and not be allowed back during the game. No replacement player will be allowed on. The same applies to coaches. Each evening the disciplinary committee will meet and decide what action to take against the player or coach. Sanctions can include suspension from future games.
  • Exclusion from the tournament for a team: if rules are seriously breached (heavy foul play, foul play on purpose, unacceptable behaviour on the court towards the referees, the audience, or other players, etc.), a player or a team can be excluded from the tournament. If a whole team is excluded from the tournament, then all the matches played or scheduled to be played by that team will be awarded to the opposition with a 0:1 score line.


(12) Tournament Points

  • The winning team receives 3 points. The losing team zero. If a match ends in a draw, it is decided by a sudden-death penalty shoot-out until one team has a one goal lead after both teams have taken the same number of penalty kicks.
  • In matches decided by a penalty shoot-out the winning team gets two points and the losing team gets one point.
  • In the event of a bye, the team without an opponent will be awarded a 1:0 victory and 3 points. Friendly matches will be scheduled when possible.


(13) Group Stage Rankings

In group stages rankings are decided by:


  • First, number of Points.
  • Second, in the event that the teams have the same number of points at the end of the section or group stage, the team with the least number of red cards will progress; if teams have received the same number (or no) red cards, then the team with the least number of blue cards will progress.
  • Third, if they have the same number of cards then progress will be decided on the head to head results between the two teams.
  • Goal difference will only be used between the teams that cannot be separated using the above criteria.
  • Therefore, it should be noted that high scores and/or Goal difference do not contribute to deciding on placings unless more than 2 teams are tied in position and thus will only include the score between these teams.


(14) Fair Play

  • Fair Play will be encouraged throughout the tournament. There will be a trophy for Fair Play.
  • Two coaches will be awarded fair play awards for the way they support, encourage and induce their teams into the genuine spirit of football, sport and fair play.


 (15) Referees

  • Each match will have three referees. Two referees will be positioned at either end of the playing court. The senior referee will be free to move around as he or she sees fit.


(16) Homeless World Cup Court Proportions

  • Size of court: 22 (long) x 16 (wide) meters.
  • Goal size: 4 m wide x 1.30m height, depth approx. 1 m.
  • Penalty area: half circle with 4m radius.
  • Height of boards: 1.10m.
  • Net: behind both goal-sides is a net which is 3m in height.
  • Place for players: 2 players benches at the long side of court.
  • Entrance for players: 2 separate entrances at the long side.
  • Size of ball: Size 5.


(17) Spirit of the Game

  • Each game is to be played under the Spirit of the Homeless World Cup. All participants (including management) are expected to uphold a high standard of behaviour and integrity both on and off the pitch. Gamesmanship (i.e. the use of dubious – although not technically illegal – methods to win or gain a serious advantage) is not in the Spirit of the Competition and will not be tolerated. This may result in sanctions. The Sports Committee’s decision is final.


(18) Disrepute

  • A Participant in the Homeless World Cup must not bring the Homeless World Cup Foundation, their team or the game into disrepute.





  • It is a requirement that a team arrives at the venue ready to play no later than 45 minutes prior to a game. The Team Manager is required to register at the Competition Office at that time. This informs organizers that the team has arrived and is at the competition site. The Team Manager must confirm the team list for the next game of competition. This is repeated for each match.  AT THE PITCH
  • Teams should arrive at the pitch five (5) minutes prior to the completion of the match in progress. The Team manager must make contact with the pitch coordinator to acknowledge they are at the pitch.
  • Changing room facilities will be available to competing teams at the venue (please check the time table that will be provide for each team).
  • Footwear: non-studded footwear only, i.e. no football boots
  • 8 players and 2 coaches maximum at pitchside, no additional entourage or players from another team
  • All players who have been declared injured or not fit must wear identifying bibs when at pitchside WARM UP AREAS

An area will be available for warm up at the Cardiff 2019 Homeless World Cup Venue. Training facilities will also be available at the accommodation site.