With 100 days to go until the first Homeless World Cup to be held in Asia, Big Issue Korea and the Seoul 2024 Local Organising Committee (LOC) have announced that former Korea Republic footballer Lee Keun-Ho will take up the role of Chairman ahead of the Seoul 2024 Homeless World Cup in September.

Lee Keun-Ho who has played 84 times for his country and scored at the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil, will lead the LOC with their preparations and delivery of the much-loved tournament, an 8-day festival of football, culture and celebration for Seoul, Korea and the rest of the world. 64 teams from 49 countries will take part in the 19th edition of the Homeless World Cup at Hanyang University, Seoul in September (Saturday 21st September – Saturday 28th September).

Over 500 players who have experienced homelessness will represent their country on the global stage, competing to be crowned Women’s and Men’s Homeless World Cup Champions. Lee Keun-Ho, a two-time AFC Champions League winner with Ulsan Hyundai finished his playing career with K-League outfit Daegu in 2023.

Keun-Ho (pic) also had spells with Incheon United in Korea as well as with J1 League sides Jubilo Iwata and Gamba Osaka in Japan having made his international debut for Korea Republic in 2007. Thanks to his leading attitude both on and off the pitch and his charity activities whilst playing and now in retirement, Lee was nominated for the 2020 FIFPro Merit Awards for his social work.

The Asian Footballer of the year in 2012 is also the co-president of the Korea Pro-Footballers Association (KPFA). The Seoul 2024 Homeless World Cup is the first tournament since this year’s release (March 29th) of Netflix’s The Beautiful Game, which introduced the Homeless World Cup and the tournament’s global impact to a worldwide audience.

On his appointment as Chair of the Seoul 2024 LOC, Lee Keun-Ho, said: “Since retiring in 2023, I have continued my role as co-president at the KPFA and I’m thoroughly enjoying being part of the commentary team for Coupang Play.

“Being able to play a part in activities like this since my playing days has been a valuable and rewarding experience. I’m excited and honoured to be working as the Chair of the Seoul 2024 LOC, alongside Big Issue Korea and the Homeless World Cup Foundation ahead of the tournament’s debut in Asia in September.

Seoul and Korea will be a wonderful and grateful host to more than 500 inspirational players coming from all over the globe to compete across 8-days at Hanyang University, representing their country on the biggest stage in a world-class competition. Homelessness often carries a negative perception amongst the public, the Homeless World Cup has been changing this viewpoint worldwide since 2003, by using the universal language of football.

By hosting this prestigious tournament, we will use football as a common interest to many across Korea and the world, raising awareness of the importance of housing rights, calling for change, and to expand social empathy around the global issue of homelessness. Seoul and Korea can’t wait to welcome the world in September.”

Welcoming the announcement, Homeless World Cup President and co-founder, Mel Young said: “As we mark the 100 days to go milestone to the Seoul 2024 Homeless World Cup, being played in South Korea’s capital and for the first time in Asia, the announcement of Lee Keun-Ho as Chairman of the Seoul 2024 LOC is a dynamic and welcome appointment by Big Issue Korea and local organisers.

“Lee has played football at the highest level, winning major trophies and representing his country for many years. He is a born leader and his attitude and performances throughout his career has led to several well-deserved accolades.

“However, he has carried on and implemented this can-do attitude away from the pitch as well, supporting those who need it the most, most recently offering his support to those affected by the 2019 Gangwon Province wildfires and the Covid-19 outbreak. Having played at the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil for his country, we have no doubt that Lee will bring a huge amount of experience from his career to support preparations ahead of the Seoul 2024 Homeless World Cup, offering expertise and  value to the Seoul 2024 LOC and Big Issue Korea but also the Homeless World Cup Federation.”

From the beaches in Rio to under the lights of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Homeless World Cup has been played in some exceptional cities and venues globally since 2003 to bring awareness and understanding to this global issue – homelessness. Mexico are the current reigning Women’s Homeless World Cup champions, and Chile won the Men’s Homeless World Cup at last year’s tournament in Sacramento, California.

With 100 days to go, the 64 teams taking part in the Seoul 2024 Homeless World Cup will be eagerly looking ahead to September and their chance for glory, telling their story and representing their nation on the global stage.