Can't wait 'till next Friday for the real thing to start? Then get yourself along to Regents Park this weekend and watch the countries of the world unite in a festival of UK amateur football modelled on FIFA's big event which will see last year's winners, Ghana, defend their Inner City World Cup title.
The competition is the centrepiece of the annual Lovefootball festival held this year at the park's new sports complex, the largest outdoor sports area in London. Mark Abery, owner of Cup Promotions, was the instigator of the event in 1994. The event has grown dramatically and now includes a wide range of music and food alongside some highly accessible and dramatic sport played in a great spirit. "We don’t care if you eat poppadums, paella, pizza or pot noodles, says Abery, "if you have a passion for the beautiful game, a pair of boots and a smile on your face then you can play!"
Unlike the month long epic in Germany, the group stages of the Inner City competition are begun and concluded on the Saturday between 10am and 7pm. Sunday sees the knockout stages and the final in which Ghana last year defeated the Gambia 2-1. This year the field contains last year's finalists as well as Ireland, Jamaica, Russia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, New Zealand, China, India, Australia, South Africa and of course the hosts, England. For more information have a look at the Cup page and the official site of the Gambian team.
Picture via RobRoyAu's Flickr stream.