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First-Ever Special Olympics Unified Football Cup Announced Malaysia Wins Bid To Host Historical Event

Special Olympics announced today the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Football Cup to be held in Malaysia from 29th October to 10th November 2014.

Press Release

Washington, DC --  Modeled after the FIFA World Cup, the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world, the Special Olympics Unified Football Cup will bring together qualifying Unified Sports football (soccer) teams from 25 countries representing each of the Special Olympics seven regions to compete and showcase as never before, the bravery, ability and joy of Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners worldwide. Countries that rose to the top during qualifying events and are participating in the Unified Football Cup include: Ivory Coast, South Africa, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Korea, France, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and the United States of America.

"Every four years, the World Cup reminds us of the power of football to inspire people around the world.  Football generates pride in families and communities across the world," said  Khairy Jamaluddin, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Malaysia.  "We are very proud that Malaysia has been given the honor to host this historic event and we will do everything possible to showcase the first Unified Football Cup.  I am pleased that we will also have the support of FIFA - the world governing body of football, the Asian Football Confederation, the Football Association of Malaysia and the Olympic Council of Malaysia."

Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sport program that combines Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) as teammates on sports teams for training and competition.  The Unified Football Cup will demonstrate to the world the potential of Special Olympics athletes to compete in football at the highest level on teams with partners without intellectual disabilities, stimulating Unified Sports training and competition opportunities, fostering development of Special Olympics football globally, increasing public awareness of Special Olympics and the gifts and accomplishments of Special Olympics Athletes, promoting athlete growth and creating attitude change toward persons with intellectual disabilities.

Unified Sports has proven a powerful vehicle for changing people's attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities, and accelerating attitude change and social inclusion. It has been one of the fastest growing activities of the Special Olympics Movement.  It will continue to be a major focus in 2014 and beyond, as the Special Olympics' global football program works towards its goal of one million footballers in 209 countries by 2016.

"Football is the most popular and most powerful sport around the world, uniting races, creating hope and transcending cultures," said Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics.  "The Unified Cup has strong support from the highest levels of leadership in the government of Malaysia and has the potential to be one of the most impactful in the history of Special Olympics.  This landmark event will help Special Olympics change the playing field for our Movement by boosting understanding and community building through an inclusive sports experience - and unify the world!"

More information on the tournament format and registration deadlines will be forthcoming.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than four million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now take place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood's backyard to World Games. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter@specialolympicsfb.com/specialolympicsyoutube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

Media Contacts

Jayandh Owen, Ogilvy Public Relations
Kuala Lumpur
+603 2718 8263

Christy White, Special Olympics 
+1 202- 824-0307