UEFA has presented one of the organisations on its charity portfolio, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE), with a football development cheque for €753,000.
The cheque was presented by UEFA Executive Committee member Dr Joseph Mifsud to SOEE officials before Saturday's EURO 2004™ qualifying competition match between Malta and Israel.
The donation is split into two parts. Some €308,000 is earmarked for the development of football for players with mental handicaps throughout Europe, and the other €445,000 is to fund the organisation of the football competition at the Special Olympics World Games in Dublin in June 2003.
UEFA has given considerable support to Special Olympics since 1998. "I am very honoured to present a cheque on behalf of UEFA," said Dr Mifsud. "Football is a sport that acknowledges social harmony and solidarity for all those involved in the game."
Special Olympics was founded in 1968, and is the world's largest annual programme of sports training and competitions for individuals with learning difficulties. Through its sports programmes, Special Olympics aims to provide long-term benefits with regard to individuals' health, self-esteem and social integration.
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