World football tournament returns to Liverpool


A football tournament celebrating Liverpool's different cultures is set to return next month.

The World In One City Football Tournament (WIOC) kicks off in June, Founded by Toxteth man Imad Ali, it saw his dream of seven years become reality in 2021 in the first tournament.

The tournament celebrates Liverpool’s diversity, with football teams from various communities, bringing people together on and off the pitch. 16 teams made it through to the finals to play for their national heritage with one crowned champion of 2024.

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Imad told the ECHO what people can expect, he said: "They can expect atmosphere, energy, vibrant colours, good vibes and excellent behaviour too. Most importantly you're going to see players fighting for their country and putting their pride on the line.

"Patriotic lads who want to represent and give a good account for their nation and community. Show they’re part of Liverpool, in football, what is the mainstay of our city I’d say.

WIOC Team manager Errol Smith (back left) with his Jamaica team who are all smiles and ready for the 2024 tournament to kick off on June 3 (Image: Patrick Graham Liverpool ECHO)
WIOC Team manager Errol Smith (back left) with his Jamaica team who are all smiles and ready for the 2024 tournament to kick off on June 3 (Image: Patrick Graham Liverpool ECHO) -Credit:Patrick Graham Liverpool ECHO

"Looking at this year it's probably, without sounding cliche, the most competitive year so far. We’ve got Ireland in a friendly against Jamaica, two nations that are definitely going to be competing.

"The West Indies, who are champions, always come with a good team. I’m being very serious when I say this, every team seems to have upped the ante and upped their levels, so it's really going to be interesting to see who comes out on top".

WIOC will be held in Jericho in Otterspool and begins on June 3. The first game; 2023 champions; West Indies v Brazil followed by Nigeria v Namibia who make up group A.

Jamaica are in group B alongside Guinea Bissau, Libya and Bangladesh. Group C; Somali Team, Congo, England and Ireland and group D; Yemen, Rest of the World, Zimbabwe and Albania.

On May 23 Jamaica played a friendly with tournament newcomers Ireland at Toxteths’s Tiber Park. Tied 1 -1 at half time, Jamaica took the lead 2-1 midway through the second half, but lost the game 3 - 2.

Jamaica’s team captain Ishy Banks, 23, said: "The first half, a good little spell for a moment. We made two major mistakes and that cost us the game.

"Last year we had our star player (Kane Drummond) we ain't got him this year. I think this year we have to be a more organised team, we haven’t got a star man who just pulls something out of nothing, so we have to all work together.

“A friendly, we don't mind the result, but you do want to win every game. It’s a good thing to build on, they’re an alright team, a Sunday team, they play every week. It's a good test, on the other hand, we could have done better".

Speaking about this year's expectations manager of Jamaica Errol Smith said: "A disciplined team with the right attitude. I want the lads to have a lot of heart, a lot of desire.

"They've played the tournament for a number of years, they understand the format, the level, expectation and how good other teams are going to be in their preparation. Everybody has upped their levels and everybody is taking it seriously..

"I’m hoping the lads can add a little bit of sharpness to their game, cut out a couple of mistakes, add confidence and I hope they can go far. Last year we got to the quarter-finals, and the first two tournaments made it to the semis.

"It's about getting back to the levels we set for ourselves in previous tournaments. If we can get to a quarter, get to a semi-final and the final that will be fantastic, and that’s all I can ask for".

WIOC Jamaica team sit down to eat at the Caribbean Centre and bond after their pre-tournament friendly loss to Ireland (Image: Patrick Graham Liverpool ECHO)
WIOC Jamaica team sit down to eat at the Caribbean Centre and bond after their pre-tournament friendly loss to Ireland (Image: Patrick Graham Liverpool ECHO) -Credit:Patrick Graham Liverpool ECHO

The Jamaica team as part of their bonding pre tournament went back to the Caribbean Centre. Errol said: "To break bread, to have some food with each other and be a proper team"

Ireland manager Dan McGonigle said: "It’s such a good tournament, a good representation of the city and we're happy to be a part of the Irish representation. Really looking forward to being a part of that festival of football.

"We're happy and if there’s one team we wanted to get that would be England, for the fanfare of it really and to give the people what they want. I think a couple of people are referring to it as the group of death.

"The friendly has got a couple of people talking that we're here to actually compete. Just happy to come out here and show our team and what we're doing".

For future fixture details follow WOIC on Instagram HERE

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