The jerseys have been printed and the players have dusted off their cleats. It's play time.
More than 800 amateur soccer players will compete in the city's first International Unity Cup this fall, starting Friday. Thirty-two teams have signed up, composed of immigrants or descendants of each team's country.
The idea for the tournament came from Mayor Kenney, who wanted to imitate the World Cup as a way to bring people of all backgrounds and races together in Philadelphia.
"This tournament is just one way we are working to make sure newcomers feel that they are a part of the social, cultural, and civic fabric of our city," Kenney said at Friday's kickoff announcement. "I can't think of a better way to unite everyone than through the universally loved sport of soccer."
The city is aiming to raise $70,000 to pay for the tournament.
Goya Foods, a staple food brand in Latino households, was announced Friday as the main sponsor of the tournament, contributing $25,000. As part of its sponsorship, Goya also will donate 5,000 pounds of food to be distributed to those in need by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
"This is a city of immigrants, part of a country of immigrants, and most come here with one goal - to make a better life for themselves and their families," Rafael Torro, a Goya spokesman, said at Friday's announcement. "We applaud [Kenney's] vision, which has brought us here together."
The sponsorship will help pay for home and away jerseys for each player and for the three referees required for each game, said Kathryn Ott Lovell, Parks and Recreation commissioner.
The Parks and Recreaction Department is coordinating the 63 matches, which will be played at recreation center fields throughout the city. The championship game will take place Nov. 5 at Citizens Bank Park.
All games are free and open to the public, city officials said.
The first games are Friday evening at the Ramp Playground in Mayfair – a doubleheader pitting Ireland against the U.S.A. and Mexico against Vietnam. Seven games are scheduled to be played Saturday. For a full schedule, visit http://unitycup.phila.gov/schedule/
"This is a great way for our residents to show pride in their home country, while at the same time showing pride in being Philadelphians," Kenney said.