Tuesday 13 November 2018

Attn: Sports/News/Health Desks


Football has the power to transform lives and can play a key role in ending homelessness in communities across the globe. That was the powerful yet simple message from Mel Young MBE, President of the Homeless World Cup, at the opening of the 16th edition of the event in Mexico City’s iconic Zocalo.

More than 450 men and women from 42 nations are taking part in the week-long festival of football right in the heart of the Mexican capital. As well as the chance to be crowned world champions, the Homeless World Cup gives participants hope and the opportunity to shape a new life for themselves.

Since it was first staged in 2003, the Homeless World Cup has touched the lives of 1.2 million people. It is transforming lives but Mr Young, who co-founded the event with Harald Schmied in 2001, believes that more must be done to tackle homelessness and football can play a significant part in that fight.

An estimated 100 million people are homeless worldwide, while as many as 1.6 billion lack access to adequate housing. It is a problem experienced in every continent from villages and rural communities to sprawling capital cities. And Mr Young wants football to take a lead role in tackling the problem.

He said: “We are delighted to be back in Mexico City. Sport – and football in particular – has real power to change lives and the Homeless World Cup has over the years been a hugely powerful example of this.

This event is underpinned by the huge commitment of volunteers and supporters all around the world whose dedication has made the Homeless World Cup possible. They deserve enormous credit.

But the real heroes are the players themselves who have used football to transform their lives. The journey they have been on has been difficult and sometimes impossible, but they have proved everyone wrong and are now here in Mexico City representing their respective countries.

Each and every one of them are heroes and I salute them all.

While the focus is rightly on Mexico City this week, the Homeless World Cup is about more than just a week of football. Every year, along with our partners we deliver a tournament that brings together hundreds of players from every corner of the planet, all of whom have faced homelessness and social marginalisation.

Our street football partners operate in more than 450 locations, reaching 100,000 homeless people every year. This is genuinely transforming lives and something we are determined to build on as we look to use the power of sport to play a role in ending homelessness across the globe.”


Key impacts from the Homeless World Cup include:

  • 94 per cent say the Homeless World Cup positively impacted their lives
  • 83 per cent improved social relations with family and friends
  • 77 per cent said their lives changed significantly because of their involvement in football
  • 71 per cent continue to play the sport
  • $364m was the social capital value of the Homeless World Cup in 2016