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Former Mexican national team players honoured teams at the Homeless World Cup for showing outstanding sportsmanship during last week’s tournament in Mexico City.

About 450 male and female players from 42 countries appeared at the 16th edition of the Homeless World Cup, a six-day event which helps people find their way back into society.

As a partner of the Homeless World Cup, FIFPro presented a daily fair play award to emphasize that showing respect to opponents, teammates and yourself is far more important than winning on the pitch.

All awards were presented by former professional footballers Victor Odin Patino, Edson Luis Zwaricz and Mexican national team players Aaron Padilla, Melvin Brown and Alvaro Ortiz. The latter is also executive president of AMFpro, the Mexican player association, which arranged the appearance of all former pros.

“Our players were delighted to help”, Ortiz said. “We must not underestimate the power of this tournament. We see how it helps people who once were addicted or abandoned but now are changing their lives thanks to the Homeless World Cup.”

Receiving the FIFPro Fair Play Award added an extra dimension, as players got recognition for exemplary behavior.

“It’s fantastic,” said Lene Knudtzen, manager of the Danish men’s team. “I think for Danish street football organisation Ombold this is the most important prize to get. I feel like we have won the World Championship already.”

Teams were picked for showing resilience or for having sympathy with weaker opponents, like the English men’s team when they were comfortably beating Hong Kong and then allowed their opponents to score and reduce the goal difference.

English captain, Abdur-Rahman Ali-Taleb, explained: “It’s something that we worked on as a team, trying to inspire others and actually inspire ourselves at the same time. For us to actually be recognised for something that we set out to do is amazing.”

The manager of the Greek women’s team, Christos Alefantis, said that is was the goal of his team to win the Fair Play Award. "Our project’s main motto is that we play football to become better people and not necessarily better footballers, and I have realised that if you become a better person you also become a better footballer along the way.”

Slovenian team manager Suzi Kvas added: “It isn’t only the football. We are also ensuring that players become stronger people and increasing their respect for themselves.”

 

HWC2018 winners 640

FIFPro Fair Play Award winners, clockwise: Greece women's team and Denmark together,
England, Slovenia and South Korea