Nigeria has won the fourth Refugees World Cup for the second time in São Paulo, Brazil defeating Morocco 9-4.
The annual knock-out tournament, in which 16 teams took part, kicked off in the Brazilian city on 16 September and was played on three days over a nine-day period at three locations.
Brazil has opened its doors to refugees from all countries, and football has become the universal language that brings them together.
The competition, organized by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in partnership with the non-governmental organizations África do Coração, Cáritas São Paulo and SESC-SP, brought together some 250 players recruited from among Brazil’s refugee community. They played in their home countries’ national colours.
Brazil hosts more than 9,500 refugees from 82 countries. The Refugees World Cup is designed to help them integrate into their new country.
According to Syria’s coach, Abdulbaset Jarour:
“The Cup is all about integration. It’s about uniting people, no matter their race or religion. We want to show Brazilians we are good people.”
According to Maria Beatriz Nogueira, head of the UNHCR office in São Paulo:
“Brazil is known as football country. But we want to show that there are a lot of other football countries too. This is a gesture to Brazil from the refugees they’ve welcomed to show that they want to integrate and that they really do speak the same language.”