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Mini World Cup matches in town

EXPAT football lovers are staging their own mini World Cup, with the quarterfinal on Saturday, the semifinal on Sunday and the final on July 10.

Twelve international teams divided into four groups are participating in the G-Sport World Cup tournament that started on June 19, organized by Shanghai Media Group's International Channel Shanghai and G-Sport channel.

The semifinal and final will be broadcast live on ICS and G-Sport.

The games are played in G-Sport Football Park in Shanghai Stadium.

"It's really nice to join the game," says Sebastian-Magnus Becker from Germany who lived in Shanghai for five years and speaks fluent Chinese. He is playing for the Switzerland team.

Most members of the teams are foreigners.

The Swiss team counts members from England, Germany and France, who all "speak" the language of football, their common passion.

"Two years ago I came to Shanghai, and since Germans like sports, I googled and saw this SIFL (Shanghai International Football League)," says Mesut Dogan who plays for the German team.

SIFL, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1995 and its players come from many countries. It's the only nonprofit football league in Shanghai.

As many foreigners, especially Europeans, are keen on football, SIFL provides a place for them to play football together and also to make friends.

"When I first came here, I found it a bit lonely," says Dogan, but SIFL helped fill the void and the quick response of the captain of the German team made him feel welcome.

Renting a football pitch can be expensive, especially for students or people with part-time jobs, so the G-Sport World Cup is a great opportunity for soccer lovers. Though pitches are cheaper in suburban areas, transport is inconvenient.

During the G-Sport World Cup, players have free use of the pitch and free training.

"We usually share the football pitch rent-free with team members in SIFL," says Becker.

G-Sport Football Park has a perfect pitch. During the football season, all 12 teams can practice in the park.

The G-Sport World Cup tournament, with 12 teams, includes 66 players from 27 countries. Sometimes they may face teammates playing on another side.

"We treat the football game very seriously and we try our best," says Dogan. "Sometimes there are conflicts and small punches, but we do enjoy every minute."

People who are interested in joining the football club can check the Website


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