The 2013 All Nations Cup starts Saturday, July 27. It’s Seattle’s own miniature version of the World Cup. Mexico is the reigning champion.
This year 24 teams from all over the world will face off at Shoreline Stadium over the next two weekends.
Sam Hassan, the director of the All Nations Cup soccer tournament yelled across the bleachers at Shoreline Stadium at a recent coaches meeting. “Hurry up!” he said in Spanish. “We’re about to draw for your group!”
Last week the coaches gathered around a plastic baseball hat filled with ping-pong balls for a drawing to decide who will play who in this year’s tournament.
The tournament will boast 19 countries from around the world such as Mexico, Moldova, Iran, England and Japan. Over the years, the All Nations Cup has hosted some controversial teams, including one from Kurdistan, a region in eastern Turkey and parts of Iran, Iraq and Syria.
“When I brought Kurdistan as a team on the tournament, I got emails from Turkey — lots of them, very threatening: ‘They’re terrorists! How can you let a bunch of terrorists participate! They’re not a country! They’re not a nation!’” recalled Hassan. “I said, whoa. They have their own religion, they have their own culture, their own language. They’re a nation, they just don’t have a country.”
Last year Palestine entered the tournament for the first time.
“It was our first experience getting used to the tournament; the atmosphere was amazing,” said Mohammad Kaddoura, one of the players from Palestine.
The Palestinian team lost in the first round last year, but that didn’t hurt Kaddoura’s enthusiasm.
He wore a bright green Team Palestine 2013 T-shirt that the team is selling to raise money. He has high hopes for this year’s matches.
“This year we’ve done a better job since we started earlier, and we are able to get younger, better players than last year and try to put on a much more cohesive team for this tournament,” said Kaddoura.
Palestine will play against England, Romania and Colombia in the first round.
But according to Hassan the tournament is not just about soccer.
“We’re not a soccer tournament. We are the most important and biggest and most dynamic and diverse ethnic event of the whole Northwest,” he said. “There is nothing that can compare with what we do. We have more than 30 languages spoken.”
Thirty languages, 24 teams, 19 countries, 46 soccer games: and on August 4, a new champion will be crowned for the All Nations Cup.
Jessica Partnow is a co-founder of The Seattle Globalist.