A galaxy of football stars thrilled 23,000-plus fans at Saturday's UEFA/United Nations Match for Solidarity in Geneva.
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Football legends came out to play and help children in Geneva on Saturday ─ and made the UEFA/United Nations Match for Solidarity a fantastic success.
On a gorgeous spring day, the Stade de Genève welcomed 23,654 fans young and old for a hugely entertaining game that saw a galaxy of stars parading their skills and, at the same time, showing their crucial support for children with disabilities.
Proceeds from the match will go to the UEFA Foundation for Children. Funds will be used to finance humanitarian and development projects to help children with disabilities at local and global levels.
The team captained by Portuguese superstar Luís Figo eventually overcame the side led by Brazilian ace Ronaldinho 4-3 in an encounter that served to demonstrate emphatically why the stellar names who came to the Swiss city for the match had all enjoyed such brilliant careers.
Raúl González, Robert Pires, Nuno Gomes and Míchel Salgado were the goalscorers for Figo's team, with Célia Šašić, Alexander Frei and Cafu replying for Ronaldinho's team.
Autisme Genève will be the local beneficiary from Saturday's game. The non-profit organisation was formed on the initiative of parents whose children live with autism spectrum disorders.
Elsewhere, the funds raised will help support projects in Africa, Asia and South America. The projects will be chosen by a committee of representatives from UEFA, the United Nations Office in Geneva and the Fondation du Stade de Genève.
"We've enjoyed the match," said Figo after the final whistle. "We feel that we're reflecting the values of sport and that we have had the chance to help people.
"It's been nice to see some great friends and play together for this important cause."
Funds have also been raised by a special digital auction featuring a wealth of football memorabilia and other items, including signed jerseys, balls and unique experiences offered by clubs and national associations.
Fans around the globe can still show their support for charities that benefit children with disabilities. The auction is still open and ends tonight at 24.00CET.
Click here to go to the auction website
A charity dinner in Geneva after the match added to the funds generated by the occasion.
The fun aspect of the day was enhanced by a children's match ahead of the Match for Solidarity. The game saw 11 youngsters from 11 different countries meeting for the first time and forming a team to play against a team of children from the Geneva area.
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin joined the fans to watch the action. “I am delighted that the Match for Solidarity has been such a resounding success,” he said.
“I would like to thank the football legends and referee team that made such a crucial contribution by taking part in the match, as well as the United Nations, who teamed up with us for such a good cause. Special thanks also to the authorities in Geneva and all other partners, as well as to the generous donators who attended the charity dinner and participated in the auction. And, of course, to all those fans who came to the stadium in great numbers to give their tremendous support.”
“Football can play a vital role in improving lives, and the Match for Solidarity has demonstrated just how our sport can act as a force for social good.”
“I am proud the United Nations and UEFA could partner for this event to promote solidarity for peace, rights and well-being through the Sustainable Development Goals," said Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva. "And all for a good cause ─ to help underprivileged children around the world.”