Afghans take homeless World Cup

Afghanistan in action against Russia at the 2008 Homeless World Cup on 7 December Afghanistan have beaten Russia to win the football World Cup for homeless people, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of the problem.

They won by five goals to four in a game which kept spectators on the edge of their seats in Melbourne, Australia, the event’s website reports.

A match between Brazil and Portugal was another high point while England lost a penalty shoot-out to Scotland.

About a billion people are homeless worldwide, event organisers say.

A chant of “A-F-G” echoed around Melbourne’s Federation Square stadium as Afghanistan and its supporters celebrated victory, the website says.

Afghanistan had been undefeated all week and it also beat Russia in the group stage.

“The Central Asians took the tournament by storm both with their inspired play and their devoted legion of fans, which turned every match into a party,” the tournament’s website reports.

Women’s game

The editor of Russia’s homeless magazine, Put domoy (The Way Home), said the Russian team would arrive home in St Petersburg later on Tuesday.

Russia’s team played the final match without its goalkeeper, replacing him with a player, Arkady Tyurin told Interfax news agency.

In a new development for the event, which kicked off in 2003, there was a homeless Women’s World Cup this year. Zambia won against Liberia by seven goals to one.

The 2009 tournament is to be held in the Italian city of Milan.

According to organisers, the event supports grass-roots football projects in more than 60 countries, working with more than 25,000 homeless and excluded people throughout the year.

It says that tournament supporters include Uefa, Nike, the UN, Manchester United, Real Madrid and international footballers Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand.

Last year’s event in Copenhagen, Denmark, was marred by an immigration row when 15 footballers left their teams and disappeared.

Seven of the missing players were from Burundi, four from Liberia, three from Cameroon and one from Afghanistan.

Danish police said the missing players would be arrested and deported when found.