The first winner of the UEFA Respect jersey exchange initiative has joined in the UEFA EURO 2012 fun by attending the opening match between Poland and Greece in Warsaw.
Jarosław Jarocki from Gdynia, whose virtual jersey exchange chain 'POLSKA MISTRZEM EUROPY' had the biggest number of followers on the website, invited his father to watch the match with him. "I am very happy that I could take part in such a fantastic action of promoting a healthy style of life through physical activity,” said Jarosław, a 21-year-old student who studies in Gdansk. "I hope I will have further opportunities to participate in such UEFA actions. For me, it is a dream come true. I have supported the Polish national team since I was a child, and have always wanted to see them live."
The initiative involves a dedicated website, available to users in nine languages. Visitors are able to join and create jersey exchange chains online, invite their friends and win top prizes.
Another lucky participant in the jersey exchange initiative is Najib Bakkali from Kharkiv, who will be able to attend the final in Kyiv after his 'Sanka7a' chain was top rated on the website with 1,809 'likes'. "I was so glad to join the exchangeyourjersey.com and Respect campaign after I was given an explanation of its noble aims when I visited the EURO Trophy Tour in Kharkiv," said Najib, who has a master degree in computer engineering.
"I created my avatar and I started exchanging my jersey with my friends," he added. "Swapping jerseys is a simple act – we see it every day in all the stadiums around the world – but it carries an important message of respect and sportsmanship."
Today, swapping shirts is common practice in football with players often pre-defining between themselves who they will exchange their jerseys with after the match. UEFA has incorporated this gesture into its Respect campaign for UEFA EURO 2012. By linking Respect with swapping shirts, UEFA hopes to make a connection with players and fans alike, encouraging everyone to swap jerseys as a symbol of their Respect for diversity in football. It is differences in football that make the game so unique.
An integrated campaign is targeted at players, officials, football fans and large TV audiences during the tournament. Its exposure includes a 30-second TV spot which is broadcast across Europe at half-time during matches, in the fan zones as well as on giant screens at the stadiums.
The TV spot introduces the jersey exchange gesture with the participation of six UEFA Respect Ambassadors: Karim Benzema, Clarence Seedorf, Peter Schmeichel, Steffi Jones (football players), Pierluigi Collina (referee) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (coach). Each UEFA EURO 2012 participating nation is represented through its national team jersey.
A print poster campaign has been launched in all the host cities with visuals of Respect Ambassadors exchanging their jerseys. These will are also be prominent in official match programmes and tournament guides available to supporters.
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