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Boston Unity Cup partners with Northeastern for international soccer celebration at
Carter Playground

The three-week tournament features 40 teams representing 34 nations. Opening festivities on Saturday will include a parade of nations, block party, resource fair and youth jamboree.

Many people line up on a soccer field and hold up different countries' flags.
Boston Unity Cup will build on last year’s success with an opening parade of nations featuring teams from the Greater Boston community. Photo by Billie Weiss/Northeastern University

Boston Unity Cup returns to the historic William E. Carter Playground on Saturday with an opening festival of soccer featuring 40 men’s and women’s teams representing 34 nations.

The three-week community event replicates the international format of the World Cup. The opening festivities will include a parade of nations that could feature more than 800 players from the Greater Boston area carrying their national flags into Carter Playground.

Opening day of the expanded Boston Unity Cup will include a block party with food trucks and music, a resource fair, an amputee soccer exhibition and a youth jamboree presented by the New England Revolution and Special Olympics of Massachusetts.

Northeastern has partnered with Boston Unity Cup to provide uniforms as well as access to Carter Playground.

“Northeastern is thrilled to welcome everyone to the Boston Unity Cup opening day this weekend at Carter Playground,” says John Tobin, vice president of city and community engagement at Northeastern. 

“The Boston Unity Cup fosters a sense of unity among the diverse cultural backgrounds of our global city’s residents as well as those from Northeastern’s students, faculty and staff. This event is a fantastic opportunity for families to come together and enjoy a day filled with friendly and spirited competition on the pitch and lots of fun off of it.”

The main attraction of the day-long free event Saturday will be a full slate of games featuring all 32 men’s teams (up from 24 last year) and eight women’s teams beginning at 8 a.m. As many as four games will be played simultaneously on shortened fields with seven players per team.

“Boston Unity Cup is a World Cup-style soccer tournament celebrating our city’s diversity through the shared passion for sport,” says Caroline Foscato, co-founder of Boston Unity Cup. “The free tournament harnesses the international popularity of soccer as an opportunity for Bostonians to build connection, understanding and cultural appreciation. 

“As one of the largest multicultural events in the city, Boston Unity Cup exemplifies inclusivity, welcoming individuals to come as they are, sharing in the love of the game and collective power of play.”

Following the example of the World Cup, the teams will compete in groups before entering the knockout stages that culminate with the championship games and closing ceremonies on Aug. 4 at Carter Playground.

Honduras beat Brazil last year in the women’s final, while Madagascar prevailed against the U.S. to earn the men’s title.

The tournament showcases the diverse soccer community of talented players throughout Greater Boston.

“We are proud to partner with the Soccer Unity Project and be a part of the Boston Unity Cup,” says Chimel Idiokitas, assistant vice president for community relations at Northeastern. “As we continue to empower future leaders, locally and globally, it’s only right that we lift up this global sport and its many positive impacts on the local community. 

“The opening day of the Unity Cup is for everyone to come together, celebrate our differences and cherish what unites us. Everyone is welcome to join this special community day and celebration on Columbus Avenue.”

Young players of all abilities from ages 6 to 12 can register via Boston Unity Cup to participate in the Youth Jamboree from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The event is affiliated with the larger Soccer Unity Project that Foscato helped launch in 2022 — a result of her 15-year investment in Boston’s soccer community.

The tournament is backed by local leaders and community and charitable organizations as well as the city of Boston.

“Boston is a city of champions with an unwavering commitment to building community for all,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu says. “The communities represented in this tournament are a reflection of Boston being a global city where everyone can come together to work, play and support each other. I’m thrilled to support the Boston Unity Cup that uses soccer as a vehicle to spread joy and build connections.” 

Northeastern committed $108 million to the 2018 renovation of Carter Playground, including $82 million for maintenance over the next 30 years, and increased the park’s size by 25% by incorporating its Camden parking lot into the renovation. The park features two football and soccer fields that can also be used for a number of sports, as well as five tennis courts, open recreational space, and an area with equipment for children with disabilities that was dedicated to Victoria McGrath, who was injured in the 2013 marathon bombing and then died in a tragic accident overseas in 2016. 

The park is named for Sgt. William E. Carter, an African American veteran of the Spanish-American War and World War I who was killed in action in France in 1918. In the 1950s, the players who shot baskets at Carter Playground included the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A decade later, King led the 1965 civil rights march to the Boston Common from Carter Playground.

“At its core Boston Unity Cup is a community event — a testament to the power of partnership within the city,” Foscato says. “Northeastern University has been at the forefront of this partnership, offering support, guidance and experiential knowledge along the way. Hosting the Boston Unity Cup at Carter Fields in the heart of Roxbury provides accessibility and visibility to the tournament, thanks to Northeastern and the city of Boston.”