The Homeless World Cup

Homeless World Cup

Yep, that's right: homeless people from nations around the world brought together to play in a soccer tournament. I'll let you work through the complexities and contradictions embedded in this event at your leisure, though I will highlight the ironic state of affairs that saw the game between Ukraine and Kazakhstan decided by video replay.

Replay — "The network infrastructure has insinuated itself into professional sport so pervasively that it no longer simply influences the latter, but rather, via league legislation, exists structurally as part of its games."

Re: Play — "The problem is that it normalizes the use of instant replay technologies during our non-structured play. Instead of the beauty of creative and unscripted shinny with its messy rules and rule interpretations, we are taught that participation in the surveillance society is the only legitimate path to truth."

Now? Not even a homeless world cup of soccer is immune from this complicity.

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2 responses to The Homeless World Cup

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  1. Erin Gillespie says:

    Wow. This is an interesting topic.
    I think that this higlights the aspect of society that is "taking the fun out of sport". I think this is important for two specific reasons. First, it emphasizes the fact that in today's society we place a higher emphasis on the competitiveness of sport rather than on the enjoyment of sport. I think that sport should encompass certain competitive aspects but that in order for athletes to really appreciate the winning aspect of sport they must love what they are doing. For example, I am an avid figure skater and although winning means a lot to me, it means a lot because I have a profound love for the sport. My love for the sport transfers into hard work and dedication, which then eventually (not always) leads to success. If a simple homeless soccer game, which is no doubt intended to have less pressure than a world cup game needs video replay to determine a winner, is it not safe to say that society values winning more than it does hard work and dedication?
    Secondly, I think that this emphasizes the role of the new technologies in our sporting world today. Decades ago it would have been nothing for a group of homeless people to get together and play some "pick up" soccer, with no media or technological involvment. However, with the increaseing reliance on technology it seems that nowadays, not even someone who has nothing can participate in sport without it being linked to technology.
    I wonder, if maybe the money that was spent on the video replay could maybe have been given to some of the players so that they could buy a hot meal or a blanket to say warm since they had nowhere to go once the game was over?

  2. Jennifer McCord says:

    At first I probably thought like most people who read this article - "This is utterly ridiculous. Why don't they just give the homeless people money." But then I went and checked out the website and read about the organization and the blogs of some people involved in the event and this completely changed my opinion.

    For those of you who haven't visited the website, the tournament is run by sponsors and thousands of volunteers, often from those sponsors. This month they had enough fundraising to have 48 teams attend the World Cup. Yes, that seems like a lot of money that could be spent in better ways. However, when these players are actually involved in the sport at this more elite level of the street version, they learn dedication, motivation, and self-respect. Often these are the things they are lacking when they have been living homeless in the streets - often from lack of education, drug use, and abuse. They become involved in street soccer (or football depending on what part of the world they are from) and many of these street versions are part of the system leading up the "World Cup." Some are now organizations that provide help to the homeless. The players, upon returning from the tournament, often have more skills, confidence, and help to find a job and get their lives together. On the website it says that 77% of the players who participate "significantly change their lives forever."

    The fact that technology plays a role in the instant re-play may be of concern as the tournament has different goals than that of the professional World Cup of Soccer. However, they use the same rules of play as the professional games, and thus have the chance to compete in the same way as they would as professionals. For many of the athletes, this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and may make all the difference to them, in having that insight into what life could be like.

    I think it is more fitting to concentrate on the fact that the athletes of this game are genuine people, not big name stars. Many fans noted that the players were respectful, and the nationality that they were competing for meant nothing outside of the field. It was stated that several players, wearing different uniforms, would be seen walking around arms around each other in true Camaraderie. Now, isn't this what we would like to think possible in all sports. Yes, the competition is great to keep us pushing to be better athletes, but wouldn't it be great to have more interaction with other players/teams outside of the rink or field? Imagine being able to put the game behind you afterwards, and use the other players around you to learn from and to become friends with. I think this Homeless World Cup could really teach us what sports could be about - making us better people and making the world of sport a place where everyone can get along, no matter what team or nationality.