PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — The Philadelphia Unity Cup finals were held at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday night.
“It’s real football, I mean, it’s European football,” said Silvana Cela from Huntingdon Valley.
A parade was held before the game and a naturalization ceremony was held on the field.
It was a matchup by Liberia, a longtime winner.
“They’ve been in all 6 finals, if they win it would be their 5th straight,” said Unity Cup director Bill Salvatore.
Against the United States.
“All of our guys come from different backgrounds,” said Dean Giovanopoulos, Team USA head coach.
Players say they enjoyed meeting people from all different nationalities along the way
“It was a great opportunity to learn more about different cultures and different teams that we played against,” said Nick Sarver from Lancaster Pennsylvania, who plays for the USA.
“Lots of Liberians, it’s our sport, of course we love it, the world loves soccer, but Liberia loves soccer too,” said Anthony Allison of Newark, Delaware, who plays for Liberia.
The city’s Parks and Rec Department holds the
international football tournament to unite immigrant communities around Philadelphia. Now in its 6th year, 48 countries are represented. That’s around 1200 players.
“It feels good to play against United again, to bring an immigrant community together, it means a lot more to me than just winning the final,” said John Rufus Kortue, Liberia assistant coach.
Over 2,000 spectators turned out to support the Unity Cup even if their country didn’t make it to the finals.
“We’re proud of the Albanian, but also proud of being Albanian-American,” said Bujar Gjoka, chairman of the Philadelphia Albanian Association.
“I thought Albania would be here, but it’s still fun to watch as I’m American too,” said Selma Cela from Huntingdon Valley.
In the end, Team USA won with a 5-3 victory in overtime.
“You hear the music, you see the flags, you hear the crowd, there’s a nice buzz in the air,” Salvatore said.
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https://6abc.com/philadelphia-unity-cup-finals-lincoln-financial-field-soccer/12306860/ Philadelphia International Unity Cup: USA beats Liberia