Homeless World Cup soccer tournament returns after 3-year pandemic hiatus
While the world rallies around the men’s and women’s World Cup Soccer Championships, a third faction of the tournament is making its U.S. debut in California. The Homeless World Cup, now in its 20th year, has returned after a three-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thirty countries are competing this year. Teams include soccer players who have experienced homelessness, as well as a number of refugees from war-torn countries and children in foster care.
The games are much shorter than traditional soccer matches, lasting only seven minutes each half, so anyone can participate. Many of the players credit soccer with helping them heal from trauma, addiction and circumstance.
The tournament made its U.S. debut July 8 in the capital of California, a state with the largest homeless population in the country. The tournament runs through Saturday, just ahead of next week's Women's World Cup.
The tournament is being held after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, when homeless populations surged in many U.S. cities. In Sacramento alone, it increased 68% between 2020 and 2022.