What is the Homeless World Cup Foundation?
The Homeless World Cup Foundation is a unique charity which uses football to inspire people who are homeless to change their own lives. Through this, we aim to change public perceptions of homelessness and the issues around it.
We operate through a network of more than 70 Street Football Partners to support football programmes around the world.
Our foundation provides a focus for—and celebration of—our Partners’ year-round activity. We do this by delivering a world-class, international football tournament for national teams of people who are homeless.
The Homeless World Cup is an annual, world-class, international football tournament organised and delivered by the Homeless World Cup Foundation. Every year, more than 50 teams of men and women who are homeless get the chance to represent their country during the week-long competition.
The tournament is an annual event, and this year takes place in Cardiff, Wales, from July 27 to August 3. Last year’s event was held in Mexico City, from November 13 – 18.
The Homeless World Cup was co-founded by Mel Young and Harald Schmied, who came up with the idea following a conference about homelessness in 2001. They wanted to change the lives of homeless people all over the world, and they believed football could help them do it. The first Homeless World Cup tournament took place in Graz in 2003, and the event and network has been growing steadily ever since, occupying a pioneering role in the field of Sport and Development.
More information about the history of the Homeless World Cup, visit the Tournament page.
Homelessness forces people into isolation, which affects their ability to share, communicate, and work with others. When a person who is homeless gets involved in football, they build relationships and become teammates who learn to trust and share. They have a responsibility to attend training sessions and games, to be on time, and to be prepared to participate. They feel that they are part of something larger than themselves. The sense of empowerment that comes from participating in street football helps people who are homeless see that they can change their lives.
Football also improves other aspects of a person’s life, such as physical health and self-esteem, and experience has shown that it is an effective way of engaging people who are homeless who have not responded to other methods of intervention.
The Homeless World Cup is the highlight of the year for our National Partners and provides an aspirational goal for players. The experience is transformational for both participants and members of the audience and challenges attitudes towards homelessness. Players represent their country in front of a supportive audience when previously they were alienated from mainstream society. They are given the opportunity to travel as well as meet people who have faced similar challenges. The tournament is designed to be competitive, but its special structure and emphasis on fair play mean that everyone plays until the last day. There are several levels of competition and trophies to win, providing a sense of achievement for teams of all skill levels.
The Homeless World Cup also challenges societal attitudes towards homeless people. Research by La Trobe University has shown that it significantly impacts attitudes towards homeless people for the better among members of the audience.
National Partners integrate football with other approaches locally. When players return, a huge percentage of them improve their lives through education, employment in social enterprises and other businesses, substance abuse rehabilitation, and supported housing. An amazing 94% of players consistently say that the Homeless World Cup has had a positive impact on their lives. The feeling of belonging, challenge of working in a team, regaining a health-oriented attitude towards life, self-esteem, experience of representing their country, and last but not least the experience of fun is a powerful combination to change a person’s life.
There are many different ways to help depending on who you are and how much you would like to contribute:
– Become a volunteer – volunteer applications are currently closed
Please visit the Press Centre, where you can fill in the press contact form.
There are two overall categories, men’s/mixed and women’s. The Homeless World Cup tournament structure is based on Rugby Sevens, with three stages of competition and several different trophies to win on finals day.
After the draw, each team plays all of the other teams in their group once. Their relative position in the preliminary group determines the group they will play in during the Second Stage.
Each team plays each other team in its Group once in a round robin format. Once all the Group games have been completed, the teams’ final position determines the last Stage of the competition. Teams than finish first or second within their group advance to play for the Homeless World Cup (men’s/mixed) or Women’s Homeless World Cup (women’s). Those who finish in third and fourth place in their group compete for the next highest trophy, and so on.
Eight teams compete for each trophy, with each competition now following the standard form of quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. This includes placing games for all teams. All teams play three games in the Trophy Stage.
The structure of the tournament ensures that each team plays matches until the final day of competition. The standard of football varies considerably across teams, and as the tournament progresses, teams become more evenly matched in terms of skill which provides a rewarding experience for players and audience alike.
Participants must be at least 16 years old, have not taken part in previous Homeless World Cup tournament, and meet at least one of the following criteria:
– Have been homeless at some point in the last year, in accordance with the national definition of homelessness
– Make their main living income as street paper vendor
– Asylum seekers currently without positive asylum status or who were previously asylum seekers but obtained residency status
– Currently in drug or alcohol rehabilitation and also have been homeless at some point in the past two years
Homelessness is defined according to the national context of each country. If a country has a legal definition of homelessness, this will be used to determine eligibility. In countries without a legal definition, working definitions by local housing NGOs or academics are used.
Each country can apply to send a men’s/mixed and a women’s team.
The national team(s) for each country are selected by the local National Partners in that country. National Partners recruit participants by putting the word out, for example through adverts in street papers and posters in hostels. They then select a team of eight players (or two teams of eight players each, if they are bringing a men’s/mixed and a women’s team), taking into account level of commitment, personal attitude, and sporting ability.
The National Partners arrange transport for our players, the Homeless World Cup Foundation ensures food and accommodation for players is provided for the duration of the event.
Temporary seated stadiums are purpose built in a busy city-centre location, with play taking place on specially constructed enclosed street-football pitches.
Localities apply to host the Homeless World Cup and are evaluated based on a number of criteria, including but not limited to:
– An active Homeless World Cup National Partner organization in the country
– Assurance of visas for participating nations
– A strong local organizer with support from necessary government and business interests
– A high-profile venue and adequate accommodation
– Potential for lasting impact
The event is free to attend, and our audience has been growing steadily each year. In 2005 in Edinburgh, between 50-60,000 people attended during one week. In Cape Town, this grew to over 100,000 people, which was repeated in Melbourne 2008. In 2012, 168,000 people attended the tournament in Mexico City.
In addition, thousands of people log on to the web to watch the live stream and millions more follow the action via social media. The event also attracts media coverage all over the world.
Typically, 48 men’s/mixed teams and 16 women’s teams are invited to the tournament.
Read the complete Tournament Rules here.