What is the Homeless World Cup?

A group of underprivileged children, who will be representing India in Glasgow at the Homeless World Cup 2016 football tournament, in Chennai on June 27, 2016.   | Photo Credit: R. RAVINDRAN

The latest edition of the Homeless World Cup, a football tournament, will take place in Cardiff from July 27 to August 3, 2019.

What is the tournament all about?

It is held annually, and the Cardiff event at Bute Park will be the 17th edition of the tournament, that began in Graz, Austria. The tournament is organised by the Homeless World Cup Foundation, which uses football as a vehicle to help homeless people learn to trust, share, and build relationships and discipline. Street football has been a favourite among the poorest, including legends like Pele and Diego Maradona who picked up skills playing football in the slums while growing up.


The Foundation was founded in 2001 by Mel Young and Harald Schmied. The organisation has tied up with over 70 Street Football Partners from across the world, including India. The partners are responsible for arranging for the players’ travel while the Foundation covers the costs of food and accommodation. The foundation accepts donations from the public through its website.

How is ‘homelessness’ defined?

It varies according to the national context of each country. If a member nation has a definition of homelessness, that will be used to determine eligibility. If a country does not have a legal definition, working definitions by local housing NGOs or academics are used.

What is the eligibility criteria?

As per the Homeless World Cup Foundation, players must be at least 16 years old and should not have taken part in a previous edition of the World Cup. Each player should satisfy at least one of the other criteria below:

- He/she should 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

Each country can send a men’s/mixed and a women’s teams.

What are the playing rules?

In a match, each team fields a maximum of four players – 1 goalkeeper and three outfield players. Four substitutes are allowed. The games are 14 minutes long, with two seven-minute halves, and a minute interval between each half. The field is 22 m long and 16m wide. The goalkeeper cannot leave the penalty area.

The winning team gets three points, and in case the scores are level a sudden-death penalty shoot-out will determine the result. One team has to have 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.

Is India sending a team to Cardiff?

India will be participating, and the probables were chosen from a national-level tournament held in Mumbai last month. The list will be pruned to 8 men and 8 women. Nagpur-based NGO Slum Soccer is responsible for India’s participation. India has been sending teams since 2006.

Which teams have dominated the World Cup?

Brazil and Mexico have won the title three times each, while Chile, Scotland and Italy have won it twice each. Mexico has finished runners-up four times and Brazil once.

What can we expect in Cardiff 2019?

Over 500 players are expected to participate. The Men’s/Mixed competition will feature 48 teams competing for six separate trophies, while the Women’s competition will have 16 teams playing for two trophies. The competing nations will be announced in due course.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 7:22:18 PM |

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