This is one of the strangest things I've ever seen - http://www.homelessworldcup.org/. I'm sitting here quite unable to make sense of it. Have a look at the site and I'll meet you back here.
OK, welcome back. See what I mean? I quote from their site:
Are you currently homeless and would like to play in the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup? Contact your team directly.
Was that line written in the expectation that even a single person reading it would say, "Why, yes, I am a homeless soccer player, and a member of a homeless soccer team. Thank goodness I came across this site while surfing the internet."
Good reader (both of you), I ask this - does a soccer tournament for homeless people (in easily accessible Australia, no less) seem like a sensible way to spend money fighting the very real, very serious problem of homelessness? Does it in any way seem like playing in this tournament should be anywhere near the top of the priority list for people suffering through what must be an unimaginably awful and degrading fate. Personally, I would put things like housing, a job, and hygiene higher on my list than "play in homeless soccer tournament".
And it seems that money is indeed being spent on this. Nike, UEFA, The U.N., Real Madrid, and Manchester United are listed as sponsors of this tournament. Now what if the money spent on funding a soccer tournament were applied to a different method of helping the homeless. What if they spent that money on . . . (are you sitting?) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . actual HOUSING for the homeless! By homelessworldcup.org's own admission, only 44% of the participants in the 2006 Homeless World Cup have "improved their housing situation". 44%? What the fuck! Is this organization not even housing all the players who participate? Is it "play a few games and then back to your refrigerator box, you slob"?
This group has lots of famous supporters. Eric Cantona, Didier Drogba, Rio Ferdinand, Luis Figo, Ringo Starr. Wait a minute. Ringo Starr? The same Ringo Starr who VH1.com lists as having been worth $111 million in 2000 supports this group? And 56% of the players from the last tournament still don't have improved housing? On the tournament site Ringo is quoted as saying, "Get into the Homeless World Cup. Participate in sport changing the world." Sport changing the world? What about using some of that money to rent these people an apartment or two. Oh, goodness no, sorry. That won't work. Give the homeless guy a soccer ball instead. The pride of knowing he participated in this tournament will keep him warm at night when he's sleeping in a garbage can.