UEFA and CAF, the African football confederation, are using the 2003 UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup to highlight the campaign to protect 'Children in War' organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The ICRC and the Egyptian Red Cross (ERC) are humanitarian partners of UEFA and CAF for the fourth edition of Meridian Cup, the youth competition for Under-17 teams from Europe and Africa, which takes place in Egypt from 25 January-2 February.
Significant UEFA support
UEFA and the ICRC have been involved in partnership since 1997, and the strategy of the relationship has been to adopt a common humanitarian theme through which UEFA provides financial backing for ICRC activities. UEFA has already given support to the ICRC's anti-landmine campaign, and has contributed more than €3.4m in support of ICRC humanitarian activities.
"UEFA has always been a strong supporter of the ICRC," said UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner. "
By shifting our focus to the ICRC 'Children in War' initiative, we hope to play our part in the campaign to protect youth and children who are exposed to war. Just as in football we believe in the principles of fair play, so in times of war the basic humanitarian principle of protecting children should also be respected."
"As the relation between UEFA and ICRC grows, so do new platforms of communication," the ICRC said in a statement. "The Meridian Cup is one such example: for the first time, a UEFA football event is dedicated to a charity. The ICRC welcomes this event as an innovative and effective communication vector. Furthermore, the Meridian Cup is the first major event through which ICRC's awareness campaign 'Children in War' will be launched, to promote information on the issues faced by children in times of war and the legal measures to protect them."
The contribution of the Egyptian Red Cross, as a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, will be to convey a united message on the theme of 'Children in War' to the Egyptian public. Egypt's First Lady, Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, the ERC President, has agreed to be patron of the Meridian Cup.
On the field, eight U17 squads will be taking part in the Meridian Cup - Switzerland, France, England and Spain from Europe, and Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali and hosts Egypt from Africa. Games are being staged in three different stadiums in the Suez Region - FC Ismailia, Port Said and the Canal Stadium in Ismailia.
Dutch champions AFC Ajax and African Champions League holders Al-Ahly (Egypt) will open the Meridian Cup in an official gala match on 24 January.
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