Legends game featuring teams captained by Luís Figo and Ronaldinho raised money for UEFA Foundation for Children to fund humanitarian and development projects around the world.
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On 21 April, UEFA and the United Nations Office in Geneva joined forces to stage the first ever Match for Solidarity charity football match, organised with the support of the City and Canton of Geneva, and the Geneva Stadium Foundation. Aside from the game, which featured the likes of Ronaldinho and Luís Figo as well as countless other former footballing legends, the event also included a unique global digital auction for fans and a live auction at a gala dinner held after the match. All funds raised are being allocated to humanitarian and development projects.
The match, held at the Stade de Genève, created huge interest amongst the general public. A total of 23,654 fans turned up to watch Figo’s team triumph 4-3 in glorious sunshine at an almost packed stadium. The driving message behind the whole spectacle was to promote peace, human rights and well-being across the world, through the Sustainable Development Goals as set out by the United Nations.
“I am delighted that both fans and football legends were able to come together in order to help raise money for good causes and help those in need,” said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin. “We are in a privileged position and we must use this to help children living in challenging and difficult conditions around the world.”
A total of €605,000 was raised and will be made available to the UEFA Foundation for Children to support four projects selected by a committee of representatives from UEFA, the United Nations Office in Geneva and the Fondation du Stade de Genève. The objective set by the committee is to support initiatives that use sport and in particular football, as a way to promote inclusion amongst children living with disabilities.
“Solidarity is key to creating a fairer world for everybody,” said Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva. “This match proved it one more time, by bringing together stakeholders of International Geneva to help reduce inequalities – Sustainable Development Goal number 10 – and to support projects for children with mental and physical disabilities worldwide. Together, our actions can produce results and have a tangible impact on people’s lives; we need to put aside our differences and focus on our mutual goal to create a world of opportunities.”
At the local level, the proceeds will be used to support an awareness campaign run by Autisme Genève, an association which looks to promote a better understanding of people living with autism, and an appreciation of diversity in society. The non-profit organisation was founded in Geneva in 2007 under the initiative of parents whose children live with autism spectrum disorders.
At an international level, the approved projects are:
Blind soccer in Bamako (Mali): A project run by Libre Vue since 2012 aimed at giving the visually impaired greater opportunities to play football.
Everyone invited to the pitch! (Argentina): A project run by Asociación Civil Andar in the Moreno district of Buenos Aires for over 20 years, which has the aim of fostering the development of people living with mental disabilities, through employment, sports, arts culture and health.
Inclusive Sports for Peace (Sri Lanka): A project run by Handicap International is active in the districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara. The aim is to help young people living with physical disabilities by ensuring sport is available for all and by promoting social cohesion.
“We are pleased that the momentum and support we received from the Match for Solidarity event has allowed us to support programmes, which look to improve the lives of children across four continents,” said Pascal Torres, the general secretary of UEFA Foundation for Children. “Children living with disabilities are particularly vulnerable and therefore need more support to have their basic rights respected, including access to education, participating in sports and leisure activities.”