Taking on its social responsibilities, the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) decided to raise the awareness for the fight against hunger, teaming up with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2008.
The European Commission joined the campaign "Professional football against hunger" in 2011. The European Union is the world's largest humanitarian donor and EPFL and FAO very much welcomed the expanding partnership.
For the European Commission, it is the appeal of football and its power to sensitize and engage massive audiences what makes "Professional football against hunger" so interesting.
Footballers such as Hristo Stoichkov, a European Footballer of the Year whom football fans know in particular from his time with FC Barcelona and with the Bulgarian national team, have subscribed to the campaign.
Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: "Footballers like my compatriot Hristo Stoichkov attract the attention of many people on all levels of society and are heroes for their numerous fans. I am glad Hristo visited some of our aid projects in Burkina Faso in the Sahel region to get a first-hand account of our efforts. He met and talked to beneficiaries for whom Europe's aid makes all the difference and I know he will share his impressions and experiences widely."
Hristo Stoichkov said: "It is vital to enable people hit by disaster to feed themselves again." In Burkina Faso, he, the Chairman of EPFL (and the English Premier League), Sir David Richard, and the EPFL Chief Executive, Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, visited aid projects run by FAO and supported by the Commission through its humanitarian aid and civil protection department (ECHO). The projects aim to restore the livelihoods of several thousand households. Aid activities include the construction of wells, distribution of seeds, fertilizers and watering cans, the reception of small animals for livestock production, veterinary supplies and training on animal health.
"To ensure the continued support to people in need, it is crucial to communicate on what is being done to help them", said Annika Söder, the Assistant-Director General of FAO for Communication and External Relations.
Further activities of the "Professional Football against Hunger" in 2011 include the participation at the Soccerex event in Manchester and more visits of aid projects by well-known footballers, among other things. The campaign's highlight will be on World Food Day on 16 October, when the European Match Day Against Hunger will be celebrated with European Football Leagues and professional clubs in many stadiums across the continent to steer the attention of football fans towards the plight of the many hungry people in the world.