For many people, the words ‘World Cup of soccer,' bring to mind recent top national teams such as Italy's Azzurri, Spain's La Furia Roja and Argentina's La Seleccion.
Italy, however, annually hosts a different kind of ‘world cup of soccer,' and this year, the 13th World Cup for immigrants in Italy, called Mundialido, gives foreigners a chance to show off their skills on the field.
Played on artificial turf and counting about 1,000 participants, Mundialido is not just any soccer tournament: it goes beyond the competitive aspect of sports. Teams are made up entirely of immigrants residing in Italy yet born in countries all over the world, among them Afghanistan, Japan, Peru, Romania, Tunisia, Ukraine and even the Vatican State. The roster this year also includes a team of Rom players.
One of the primary goals is to overcome barriers between people. The organizers say that the tournament demonstrates that a positive multi-ethnic coexistence is possible. Each squad consists of players from the same country of origin, emphasizing both global integration and the development of social cohesion.
This year, Mundialido, which began on May 21 and runs through June 25, marks a special occasion: from Ostia, Mundialido moves to Rome, where the 24 teams participating play for the trophy. The event is organized by AS Club Italy, which has selected Rome's Spes Artiglio Sports Center (on via Boemondo, Piazza Bologna) as the host of the 2011 tournament.