Euro 2016 & The Homeless World Cup: Two Sides of Football’s Coin

This summer we will witness two International football events that highlight the polar opposites of the sport; Euro 2016 and the Homeless World Cup.

Euro 2016, held in France, epitomised the modern game.  It had a bold, brash, and flashy opening ceremony complete with David Guetta providing the soundtrack amidst an array of confetti and fireworks.  It was sponsored by some the world’s leading brand names at a cost of many millions of Euro’s, and for what return, or is simply being associated to Euro 2016 a big enough return on investment?

The tournament was covered and broadcast in over 230 territories around the world with an estimated total viewing figure of over 8 billion and, as is the way of the world, it dominated social media for its four week duration.

In the lead up to the tournament over €2billion was spent on stadia and infrastructure projects helping to make Euro 2016 the biggest and most accessible Euro’s yet.

There were also more nations involved than ever before and a new group stage qualification format leading to the first ever Round of 16 in a European Championships; all very exciting.

The players did their bit on the pitch to keep the glitz and glamour going turning out in the latest trendy haircuts (some even changing hairstyle two or three times during the tournament) and gaudy luminous coloured boots; so much so you could be forgiven for forgetting there was a football match to watch at times.

The football itself was decent but certainly not as exciting or gripping as you would expect from players who are paid tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pounds per week and who are linked with transfers for fee’s roughly about as much as it would cost to build a new school or hospital.  And, in keeping with the modern game, there were far more acts of foul play than fair play.

On the other side of the football spectrum we have the ongoing Homeless World Cup in Glasgow, an event you may not even know is going on such is the lack of coverage from most national broadcasters.  However, QTV Sports are doing a great job live streaming the event on YouTube.

The Homeless World Cup has brought together over 500 players from 52 competing nations for a week long festival of football and offering a fantastic opportunity for the competing players to experience life away from their daily struggles.

Meeting up with the Hungarian team after the Zimbabwe game.
Meeting up with the Hungarian team after the Zimbabwe game.

All players in the tournament are categorised as homeless in their respective countries and are associated to a national organisation attempting to help them find their feet again.  One of the ways this can be achieved is through the power of football and its ability to bring people together, something that has been highlighted by the level of sportsmanship and camaraderie shown by players of all sides towards their opponents.  Every game has ended with both teams holding hands and saluting the fans, while during the games players have been quick to offer a helping hand and apology if they knock an opponent over.  How refreshing.

The event is also supported by Bala Sport who are providing fair-trade football’s for the completion, furthering the social ethos of the Homeless World Cup.

The #fairtrade Bala ball used at HWC2016
The #fairtrade Bala ball used at HWC2016

Having spent a day in George Square watching the games and meeting the Hungarian national team, I can say that this is what football is all about.

The Homeless World Cup has brought people from all over the world together, it is celebrating achievement over adversity, and it is being done in the spirit of fair play and enjoyment.

Well done to all involved!

The Homeless World Cup began on Sunday and runs through to Saturday.  For more details check out Homeless World Cup and Street Soccer Scotland.


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