Two weeks ago, thousands of Philadelphians convened at Citizens Bank Park for a historic moment: The Philadelphia International Unity Cup. To some, it may sound a little silly to call two neighborhood teams battling it out for bragging rights “historic,” but the Unity Cup was the first ever 32 team, world cup style soccer tournament comprised of immigrant players in the United States. And, even more importantly, it brought our city together in a time when much of the nation was bitterly divided.
This world Cup-style soccer tournament was created for one simple reason: to celebrate the different communities that make up the mosaic that is our city and, in doing so, help bridge cultural differences through sport. The Office of Immigrant Affairs, along with the Department of Parks and Recreation, spearheaded the efforts to engage the community in order to make it the best tournament it could be.
Throughout the tournament, we saw leaders come together behind a cause that meant so much to them. We had community members tell us, young and old, how much it meant for their community to have a platform to be heard and be seen by the rest of the city. For some recent immigrants, this tournament was a reassuring sign that Philadelphia welcomed them.
In the wake of the presidential election, a lot of people have asked me if immigrants and other minorities can still feel welcome. So let me, say, on behalf of the people of Philadelphia, you are always welcome here.
In the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, our belief in inclusion has always made us stronger, and we will not abandon that belief, regardless of who is President. As your mayor, I will stand up against hate, violence and anything else that threatens our city’s unity. Those who commit hate crimes or any other form of intimidation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And I will continue to stand up for all communities, including immigrant communities, as I’ve been proud to do this year as your mayor.
As just one small example of that pledge, I’m proud to say that the Unity Cup will become an annual tradition, and I want to personally thank all of the teams and community leaders for making it such a memorable occasion. The idea would not have been possible without cooperation between the communities and our city. Congratulations to all of the teams participating, to Ivory Coast, our champions, and to Philadelphia for continuing to be a welcoming city.