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World Cup in Kenya prison

Kenyan prisoners watch a mock World Cup soccer match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, as part of a monthlong soccer tournament involving eight prison teams at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, Kenya’s largest prison facility, near Nairobi, on June 14, 2018. (Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

World Cup in Kenya prison

Host nation Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the World Cup on Thursday, exactly mirroring the score of a match played on a dirt pitch in a jail in Africa thousands of miles away. As part of their rehabilitation, inmates at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, near Nairobi, Kenya, are playing their own version of the soccer tournament, with teams named after the countries competing in the real thing.

In Thursday’s opener, watched from the sidelines by inmates in blue-and-white striped uniforms, “Russia” beat “Saudi Arabia” 5-0 — the same score seen hours later by the real teams in Moscow. “The game was good, even though I peaked late,” said 23-year-old Byron Otieno, serving a life sentence for murder, who scored two of his “Russia” team’s five goals.

Joseph Kirai, a volunteer who organized the seven-a-side competition with a local church, said the idea was to use the interest in the real World Cup to bring inmates together for a positive experience. “Our major goal is to transform the inmate through sports,” Kirai said. (Reuters)

Photography by Baz Ratner/Reuters

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