Refugees play soccer tournament in São Paulo

15 de setembro de 2017

São Paulo – The 4th Refugee Cup will kick off on Saturday (16), 10 am in east side São Paulo. Held by NGO África do Coração with backing from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), from Caritas Internationalis in São Paulo and the Social Service of Commerce (Sesc), the soccer contest will feature 16 teams and roughly 250 individual players.

Iraq, Morocco and Syria will represent the Arab world. Other contenders are Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania and Togo. The all-knockout championship will be played over the course of three days.

Jean Katumba, who’s one of the coordinators, explained that the championship has slimmed down compared with last year – which saw 27 teams and 300-plus athletes. “In July, we had the Integration Cup, which featured mixed-gender, mixed-nationality teams. If you put both championships together, this year was even bigger.”

For this fourth edition, the Refugee Cup will rely on private sponsorship for the first time, according to Katumba. “Company Netshoes will supply the uniforms and Sodexo will cover food expenses,” said he, a Congolese refugee who helped arrange all editions of the competition. The UNHCR said corporate support was not limited to the realm of social responsibility: they embraced the idea and worked to help the refugees integrate in Brazil. Sodexo, for instance, employs 60 refugees and immigrants throughout Brazil.

The São Paulo City Hall also provided key support via three different secretariats: Sports and Leisure, Human Rights and International Relations. Thanks to this, the championship final will be played in the Pacaembu Stadium at 3pm on Sunday, September 24. “They let us use the stadium free of charge,” Katumba said.

The City Hall supplied the venues for the other games as well: Centro Esportivo, Recreativo e Educativo do Trabalhador (CERET), in Tatuapé, east São Paulo, which will host the first round on Saturday (16); and Estádio Municipal Jack Marin, in São Paulo’s Aclimação park, where the second round will be played on Sunday (17).

Admission to the matches is free and donations of non-perishables will be accepted. The foodstuffs will be given out to refugees in vulnerable situations. Katumba is expecting a total of 25,000 people to watch the matches.

“We’re really excited about this new edition. We wish to show that the refugee community is here in Brazil to help fuel the economy and to bring joy to the local people, contrary to what many people still think,” he said.

The first three Refugee Cups were all played in São Paulo. The winners were Nigeria, Cameroon and Congo.

Quick facts
4th Refugee Cup
First round: Saturday (16), from 10 am at CERET (Rua Canuto de Abreu, no number, Tatuapé)
Second round: Sunday (17), from 10 am at Jack Marin Stadium (Rua Muniz de Souza, 1119 – Aclimação Park)
Final: September 24 2pm at Pacaembu Stadium
Find out more: Facebook event (in Portuguese)

*Tradução de Gabriel Pomerancblum