#WeLiveFootball around the globe

#WeLiveFootball Collage 2019
© FIFA.com
  • People all over the world are living football
  • Learn more about some fantastic initiatives involving the beautiful game
  • Stories unlike any others

In 2019 USA defended their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ crown, Liverpool won the FIFA Club World Cup™ and Lionel Messi was named The Best FIFA Men’s Player once again. Even away from the big stadiums and household names, a whole host of new footballing stories were written this year. After all, we all love and live the beautiful game!

Here are some of the stories that made the biggest impact on us over the past 12 months.

Strong woman, strong girl

Take Natalia Guitler, for example. The Brazilian is one of the best players in the world at teqball, a mix of football and table tennis. On one occasion Guitler even challenged none other than Neymar to a game. It was a close contest – find out who won here.

Women like Guitler undoubtedly serve as role models for youngsters like Candelaria Cabrera. Despite her tender age, the eight-year-old Argentinian has already helped to change the rules for girls playing football in her homeland for the better.

Kids know the score

It’s not surprising that children and young people often have the best grasp of sportsmanship and fairness and frequently demonstrate this when playing football. This spirit was evident once again in the 11-year-old from Spain who injured his opponent in a match and then apologised by sending letters and a book as a gift. Another remarkable story is that of the German youth team who found themselves in an exciting race for promotion with another club, but gave up the championship when several players from the rival team were seriously injured in a car accident.

Luis y Camilo
© Ruben Losada, courtesy of CD Ebro

"#VamosAlEstadio" means “Let’s go to the stadium” and is the name of a great initiative in Chile. The people behind the scheme found it unacceptable that rival groups of fans had to be separated by empty security zones in football stadiums. So what was their resoundingly successful idea? To set about filling these empty areas with children from both teams’ fan bases!

Letting nothing stand in their way

"The diagnosis was that I’d be in a wheelchair for life." Yet young Brazilian Getulio Felipe did not let that stop him from getting out of his wheelchair to become a goalkeeper, train with Manuel Neuer and even host his own radio show. This story is just one of many examples of how people with physical or mental disabilities are not deterred from playing football despite their challenges (you will find more in the links at the bottom of this article).

Can someone with Down’s Syndrome work for a professional football club? While most people’s initial reaction might be "surely not", Alex O'Donnell and Celtic prove that precisely this is possible.

Alex O'Donnell and Marie Rowan lead the Celtic Park tour.
© FIFA.com

One teenager refused to give up on his dream of international football. He scored a dream goal, emailed a clip of it to a national football association and ended up representing the country in a European qualifying campaign.

Volunteers Media Day - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia 
© Getty Images

There would be no football without referees. Meet the oldest female referee in Germany, who is still officiating matches at the age of 75.

Anyone who has ever attended a major tournament knows that not much would happen without the help of volunteers. Hubert Bihler, who is also over 70, has volunteered at almost 50 major events, while Ketsia Nkumbu has already made his debut as a volunteer at a very young age.

Football has often proved that it can be used as a tool to help make the world a better place. With this in mind, US-based initiative Soccer in the Streets, supported by the FIFA Foundation, is representative of countless organisations that use football to successfully help refugees – this time even with a very special surprise.

In South Africa the charitable organisation Ubuntu has set itself the goal of "developing different kinds of men who will change this place" – and are using football to help them achieve this aim.

Meanwhile in Asia we met the "emperor" of Chinese fans – and he had plenty of stories to tell. Take a look at the photo in this article to see who he has already met!

Chinese football fan Li Wengang(L), nicknamed the fans' emperor, poses for a picture with Diego Maradona
© Others

Last but not least, we prove that you don’t have to be a wizard with a ball to become part of the beautiful game. It might be that you create very special shoes that are even worn by the game’s biggest stars, or share your special talents with the FIFA Fan Movement – as one fan from Japan did.

We hope that 2020 will bring a whole host of fantastic new stories about much more than just the biggest names in the sport!

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