Refugee World Cup

Refugee World Cup is part of the refugee week celebration provides a focus for celebrating the contributions refugees make to the UK by helping to organise and promote cross-cultural arts and sports activities each year during Refugee Week.

MRSN held the first Refugee World Cup in 2000 to welcome the Kosovar community to Manchester. This has become a highly anticipated annual event and has grown from 4 teams to 20 teams taking part each year; from 40 to 200 participants; from teams segregated along country of origin lines to fully integrated teams

Refugee World Cup 2017 will be held on Saturday 24th June 2017, at Albert Park, Grecian Street, M7 1JF. All BME communities and local teams from across Greater Manchester are welcome. The tournament is 7-a-side and teams can register a maximum of 10 players.

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The tournament will take part between 9:45 and 4pm. All teams must register before Friday 17th June 2017 to guarantee their place in the tournament. It is very important that you arrive on time as teams who arrive after 10:00 will not be allowed to participate

Latest Blog…Refugee World Cup

Football never really goes away…not even in the summer! We have found a lot of information about the Refugee World Cup. Here is our latest blog…

Manchester’s World Cup

The Refugee World Cup, a football tournament for teams made up of refugees and asylum seekers is one of the most popular events organised by the Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN). Starting in 1999 and based on the World Cup Finals, the tournament is timed to coincide with Refugee Week an annual, UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK. Photographs and press cuttings in the MRSN archive (from 2000) help tell the story of one of those involved in the tournament, football coach, Abdullahi Mohammed.

Following the outbreak of civil war, Abdullahi left his home country of Somalia in 1990 in fear of his life. A qualified football referee and coach, Abdullahi made his home in the North West. ‘When I came to Manchester there were so many Somalis like me who used to play football back home, but we didn’t know anyone to play with.’ Abdullahi set up a team and they eventually entered a 5-a side Wednesday league at the Pitz sports centre in Ardwick. The team started at the bottom in Division 6 and climbed to Division 1 in just a few seasons.

Somali Football Season (Refugee World Cup) Aug 1999

1999 With the guidance of coach Abdullahi, and following a nail-biting penalty shootout with Sudan, the Somali team won the 2000 Refugee World Cup. The efforts of all the teams in the tournament were encouraged by a visit from Ghanaian footballing ace Abedi Pele, former captain of the Ghana national team. Pele was in Manchester (May 2000) to see the preparations for the Commonwealth Games which Manchester was due to host in 2002. Whilst in the city, he watched Refugee Cup training sessions and chatted with players. Pele, who found fame in France with Lille OSC and Olympique Marseille is regarded as one the greatest African footballers of all time and his surprise visit gave the teams an instant boost.


Abdullahi was just one of many refugees at the Refugee World Cup 2000 celebrations, an event, which was supported by the Co-operative Bank. The African sounds of the Ekimogum Orchestra gave the night a special lift and the work of Chilean photographer Carlos Reyes-Manzo who photographs refugees all over the world was on display.

Abdullahi went on to become a full-time under-16s coach, working with Somali children in Moss Side and Hulme to develop their skills and self-confidence. The Refugee World Cup also went from strength to strength and in its fifteenth year (2014), it had 14 teams with 140 players. Not bad for a tournament that started with just 4 teams!

Project Archivist, JS