The 2020 iteration of the Homeless World Cup has been cancelled as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar.
The global football tournament, which brings together more than 500 homeless people from all over the world to represent their nation, was due to be held in Tampere, Finland, from June 28 to July 6 at the city’s Ratina stadium.
Organisers released a statement on Friday that read: “We are extremely sad to announce that the Tampere 2020 Homeless World Cup is cancelled.
“Unfortunately, the risks associated with the widespread virus COVID-19, and the uncertainty in travel restrictions as well as disruption to the activities of our Street Football Partners in the run-up to the event, have led us to a decision that will undoubtedly be disappointing to many, although we are confident is appropriate under these unprecedented circumstances.
“The Homeless World Cup Foundation will continue as normal with everyone focused on our vision of a world without homelessness.”
Mel Young, co-founder of the Homeless World Cup Foundation added: “We tried our very best to hold this year’s Homeless World Cup but sadly it became impossible due to the practicalities surrounding the global pandemic. Our commitment to using football as a way of tackling homelessness remains one hundred per cent and we will continue to work flat out in conjunction with all of our global partners to end homelessness.”
The news is a blow to the Finnish hosts, who revealed that putting on the event “has been our target for several years”, according to the president of the local organising committee and Tampere’s event director Perttu Pesa when it was announced that the tournament would be in Tampere last year.
A Michael Sheen-powered bid was behind the successful Homeless World Cup tournament in Cardiff last summer that showed off the incredible impact that the event can have on lives of homeless people from around the globe. To donate to the HWC Foundation, head here.
It’s not just the annual event that has been affected by the coronavirus. Street Soccer Scotland, the social enterprise behind the Scotland team, have been forced to end their coaching sessions at their base while the virus is contained. Big Issue Changemaker and SSS founder David Duke said: “We realise that our Street Soccer sessions offer more than just a ‘kick about’ so whilst the footballing activity has been postponed for now, access to additional support will remain in place where needed.”