Seoul will stage an international football tournament for homeless people in 2024, the event's organizers announced this week, making South Korea the first Asian host of the annual competition.
The 2024 Homeless World Cup will be coming to the South Korean capital for an eight-day run in October, the Homeless World Cup Foundation and the Big Issue Korea said Tuesday. The exact dates and venue will be announced early next year, officials added.
The Homeless World Cup, bringing together homeless people from some 70 nations, was first held in 2003. It has been played in countries such as Austria, Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and the United States, but never in Asia.
According to the foundation, the Homeless World Cup "has the power to change the lives of participants and shape attitudes towards the global issue of homelessness, using the universal language of football."
"Over the years, we have proved that using the power of football can change lives and we remain committed to tackling and ending global homelessness," said Mel Young, president and co-founder of the HWCF. "Seoul is the world's 16th-largest capital city and South Korea is a wonderful place to visit with a huge football fan base and culture. There has been significant interest for some time from our partner The Big Issue Korea to host the Homeless World Cup, so we are pleased to confirm that Seoul will be hosting next year's tournament."
Kim Soo-ryul, head of the Big Issue Korea, said, "By hosting the Homeless World Cup, we hope to draw citizens' attention to guarantee housing rights and lay the socially supporting foundation for policy changes."
The Korea Football Association Football-Love Sharing Foundation will organize the event next year.
"We will do our best to prepare for the Homeless World Cup in Seoul so that it will have a positive influence around the world," said Kim Ho-gon, director of the foundation.
The Homeless World Cup entered the South Korean public consciousness this past spring, with the release of the film "Dream," inspired by the true story of South Korea's debut in the Homeless World Cup in 2010.
The film follows a suspended football player named Yoon Hong-dae (Park Seo-joon), who is given the job of coaching a team of homeless people selling Big Issue magazines. (Yonhap)