After taking a brief hiatus due to COVID-19 a year ago the Philadelphia International Unity Cup made its highly anticipated return on Aug. 27. The World Cup-style tournament that unites the city’s neighborhoods and celebrates the diverse immigrant communities kicked off at Smith Playground in Philadelphia with a match between the United States and England.
In total, 52 teams will be competing in the 2021 Unity Cup tournament, which spans several months. The number is the highest the tournament has ever had, starting with just 32 teams when it began in 2016. Those teams are representing five continents and over 100 languages.
When Opening Ceremonies commenced, representatives donning their respective country’s jersey and flags were led onto the pitch. Each country from each Group paraded onto the field as its name was announced over the loudspeaker. As the representatives waved the flags, they smiled and gathered at midfield.
For “The City of Brotherly Love,” it was another opportunity to blend cultures through the game of soccer. Fans wearing jerseys from different countries, local clubs and professional teams gathered together on the sidelines as they waited for the opening kickoff.
At the end of the night, the American side emerged victoriously, 8-0.
While others have replicated the Unity Cup idea since its inception five years ago, Philadelphia was the first American city to hold this style of tournament.
Games will be hosted at a dozen sites across the city, including Parks & Rec sites like Ramp and Smith Playgrounds, school district supersites, and Temple and LaSalle Universities. The final will be at Subaru Park, home of the Philadelphia Union.