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Special Olympics Michigan Holds Live Draw Ceremony for Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022

Event from July 31 – August 6 will showcase the world’s most inclusive sports competition
Five people standing in front of an audience, one person speaking.
On 13 May 2022, Special Olympics hosted a Draw Ceremony in Detroit to determine the initial men’s and women’s teams playing in the Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022. More than 300 footballers with and without intellectual disabilities from over 20 nations will compete in the largest Unified football (soccer) tournament.

DETROIT, Michigan, USA, 13 May 2022 – With just 78 days until the first ball is kicked at Corner Ballpark on 31 July, the official Draw Ceremony for the Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 was conducted today at the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC).

2022 Champions Together : 2022 Unified Cup Draw Ceremony

Presented by Toyota, and modeled after the FIFA World Cup™, this July, the Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 will welcome over 300 footballers with and without intellectual disabilities from over 20 nations to compete in football (soccer). Today Special Olympics Michigan announced the matchups for the group stage of the Unified Cup in a live ceremony. The ceremony was held as part of Special Olympics Michigan’s annual Breakfast of Champions event that brings together business and community partners.

Special Olympics Michigan President and CEO Tim Hileman, WDIV Morning News Anchor Rhonda Walker and Special Olympics Michigan athletes Anthony Banies, Allen Coleman and Kayla Johnson, conducted the Draw Ceremony.

A long-standing soccer tradition, the ceremony utilizes a lottery to determine the initial lineup of play for the men’s and women’s group stages of the tournament. During the Draw Ceremony, teams were placed into four different pots, with three teams placed into each pot. The group stage at the beginning of the tournament consists of each team inside their respective groups playing each other once. The top teams for each gender will advance to Division 1, earning their chance to fight for the Unified Cup. The remaining teams will make up Division 2 and 3 and will play for 1 – 4 place in their division.

“Today was an exciting day for Special Olympics Michigan and footballers around the world as we held a live Draw Ceremony for the 2022 Unified Cup being held in Detroit this summer,” Hileman said. “With the Draw Ceremony in the books, the 2022 Unified Cup is officially underway—our schedules our set and teams finally know who they are competing against in the Cup.”

A draw was held for both the men’s and women’s tournaments. To start each draw, Special Olympics USA was drawn first as the Cup’s host team and placed into Group A. One team from each remaining Pot was drawn to guarantee Group A has teams from various continental regions. The process continued for Groups B and C, where one team was drawn from each pot to determine which four teams comprise that Group. The idea here is that no teams from the same pot will face each other in the group stage. Check out the full list of match-ups from the Draw here!

The Unified Cup is expected to draw 10,000 spectators, 1,000 volunteers and 500 family members and dignitaries with the common mission of celebrating the joy of sport and the power of inclusion through camaraderie, competition and breaking down social barriers.

Detroit has a long history of meeting the future head-on, serving as a beacon to the nation for innovation and grit. As Special Olympics looks forward to the triumphant return to international competition in 2022, Detroit is the perfect location to showcase the power of Special Olympics Unified Sports®. Special Olympics Unified Sports® brings together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to play on the same team, demonstrating how playing and competing together breaks down barriers and ultimately creates communities of acceptance and inclusion. Globally, more than 885,000 Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners (athletes without intellectual disabilities) compete in football (soccer). The Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 will be the second-ever tournament in this single-sport series, following the inaugural competition in Chicago in 2018.

“Ally is rooted in Detroit and our values have always centered around acceptance and inclusion,” said Bridget Sponsky, Executive Director, Brand and Sponsorship Marketing, Ally Financial. “Welcoming and supporting each other is a belief embedded in our business and culture and is reflected in our Official Hometown Sponsorship of the 2022 Unified Cup Detroit.”

Countries with teams participating in the 2022 Unified Cup include the following:

Selected Special Olympics women’s teams:

  • Burkina Faso
  • Caribbean (Haiti, Aruba, Bahamas)
  • Costa Rica
  • Egypt
  • Guatemala
  • Bharat (India)
  • Mexico
  • Namibia
  • Slovakia
  • Serendib (Sri Lanka)
  • UAE
  • USA

Selected Special Olympics men’s teams:

  • Brazil
  • Jamaica
  • Nippon (Japan)
  • Korea
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Paraguay
  • Romania
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • USA

A primary objective of the Special Olympics Unified Cup is to reach and collaborate with professional football clubs, their foundations, and football federations to support the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and the development of Unified Sports.

“I am excited to show the world my city,” said Anthony Baines, Special Olympics Michigan athlete, based in Detroit. “I am excited to meet and get to know people from so many different places. I can’t wait to watch the Unified Cup be raised as a show of the power of inclusion and how sports bring us together.”

The men’s and women’s Division One finals will be streamed live from Keyworth Stadium—home of the Detroit City Football Club—to hundreds of millions of viewers across the globe by ESPN, the Global Broadcast Partner of Special Olympics and the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports®.

About Special Olympics

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedInand our blog on Medium. Learn more at

About Special Olympics Michigan

Special Olympics Michigan Inc. (SOMI) provides year-round sports training and athletic competition to over 23,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities and Unified partners (athletes without intellectual disabilities). Athletes develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy while participating in the sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship among their families, Special Olympics athletes, and the community. SOMI is a non-profit organization supported almost entirely by corporate and individual gifts and events. The generosity of Michigan organizations, individuals, and statewide businesses enable the program to continue.

About Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022

The Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 is made possible thanks to support from sponsors Toyota, ESPN, Ally Financial, Gallagher, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network, The Coca-Cola Company, Jersey Mike’s Subs, The Real Estate One Charitable Foundation and Walmart. For more information, visit and stay up to date on our social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Media Contact


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Special Olympics
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