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Using football to address homelessness
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With the World Cup approaching, Guilherme Araujo from Futebol Social shares some insights on homelessness in Brazil and how football can be used to address the situation.

sportanddev: How much of an issue is homelessness in Brazil?

Guilherme:

 Homelessness in Brazil is a very critical and challenging situation and strongly related with other historical social issues. The housing deficit in the country affects more than 10 million people that live in precarious houses, most visually represented by the various favelas in the metropolitan areas and other inadequate housing situations in remote areas of the country. Thousands of these people live on the streets and/or public shelters – more than 15,000 just in the city of São Paulo, the biggest in the country. There is a clear housing/development cause-and-effect relationship and the impact of bad housing on children's lives is determinant for their future development.

sportanddev: How can football be used as a tool to address homelessness and how does Futebol Social do this?

Guilherme: Futebol Social runs a national programme that connects grassroots football projects that use sport for the development of young people who live in inappropriate housing. Our main goal is to offer them a unique life experience. Motivation and self-esteem are key words. We want to help participants to have a different view of the world and be stronger to achieve their dreams. For those involved, it’s a powerful tool for social mobilisation. Activities, programmes and events are organised and a final event, the Futebol Social Cup, brings together projects and players from the whole country. One of the results is the formation of the Brazilian teams that play annually in the Homeless World Cup.

sportanddev: Will the World Cup have any impact on the work of Futebol Social or on life for homeless people in Brazil?


Guilherme: We have no relationship with the World Cup and, unfortunately, it will not bring any positive direct impact to our work. We are not aware of any relevant programme for homeless people related to the event. It is very natural that there are high expectations for the World Cup in the “country of football” since it was last hosted here 64 years ago. However, as part of the event legacy, the population expected great improvements in infrastructure and better social and living conditions. Once that was not satisfactory, demonstrators have come out to the streets to show their dissatisfaction in manifestations that include housing demands.

Our people love football and the Brazilian national team. We are quite sure that tourists and the international media will be very welcome and the world will see a great spectacle. But they will also know about the Brazilian contradiction and social inequalities – may this international exposure contribute towards bringing a positive and concrete impact? We hope so!

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