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Match Day against Hunger
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Published on 29-03-12

The “Professional Football Against Hunger” campaign is coming to hundreds of European football stadiums – including England and Scotland's leading arenas - with the message that action is needed now to avert a humanitarian disaster in the Sahel region of Africa. A hunger crisis caused by drought, chronic poverty, high food prices, displacement and conflict is threatening millions of people there.

Promoted by the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), The Premier League, The Football League, the European Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the biggest-ever Match Day Against Hunger kicks off on 30 March to spread this call for urgent action.

    By the time the last match is played on 2 April, the campaign’s message will have swept across the continent from Glasgow to Vienna and from Málaga to Novosibirsk, involving 300 professional football clubs in 20 leagues throughout 16 European countries and reaching millions of football fans.

    The European Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response, Kristalina Georgieva, will mark the event by attending Soccerex, the leading European forum and annual gathering of the football industry in Manchester. Today she will present the campaign at the dedicated "Professional Football Against Hunger" exhibition stand together with FAO Goodwill Ambassador Patrick Vieira – the former Arsenal and Manchester City star, born in Senegal and capped over a hundred times for France - and EPFL's German Bundesliga Ambassador Steffen Freund, who spent five years at Spurs and won 21 caps for Germany.

    “The most vulnerable and most tragic victims of the Sahel crisis are children – those whose dreams of becoming famous football players, or going to university, will be crushed by the physical and mental toll of hunger. We can help save more of these children and give them a chance to follow their dreams – and this is what this campaign is about," said Commissioner Georgieva. "Thanks to football's magic ability to reach millions of people, we can save more lives in the Sahel. Together we can save lives".

    “Football is the great global unifier,” said Sir David Richards, Chairman of the EPFL. "European professional football is providing the megaphone for this message so that the right help can get to the people in need as soon as possible.”
    The campaign relies on its goodwill ambassadors – world-famous football stars who are working to convey its message to hundreds of millions of fans across Europe.

    Patrick Vieira, former French international star player and FAO Goodwill Ambassador, was born in Senegal, one of the affected countries. He said. “The right to food is a basic human right, and no one in today’s world should go hungry”.
    Former international star and ambassador from the Bulgarian professional football league Hristo Stoitchkov visited Burkina Faso last year to see the joint work of the European Commission and FAO up close. He said, “I have witnessed their life-saving, life-changing work first hand. They help people to feed themselves today and prepare for tomorrow. It’s the right kind of help getting to the right people.”

    Other football ambassadors of the campaign include legendary Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos, highest ever Champions League goalscorer  Raúl González (Spain), Francesco Toldo (Italy); Felix Magath (Germany), Herbert Prohaska (Austria); Vidar Riseth (Norway), Jerzy Dudek (Poland, former Champions League winning Liverpool goalkeeper) ) and Alexey Medvedev (Russia).

    Background

    Nearly 16 million people, mainly households of farmers and herders, are estimated to be at risk of hunger in the Sahel. The European Commission and FAO are bringing life-saving and livelihood-protecting cash, food, agricultural input and training to those who need them most, in addition to planning longer-term interventions to help people feed themselves again and address the root causes of the recurring food crises in the Sahel

    Match Day Against Hunger is the flagship event of the "Professional Football Against Hunger" campaign, launched in 2008 by EPFL, representing the 30 largest professional football leagues and almost 800 clubs across Europe, and FAO, the United Nations agency leading international efforts to defeat hunger.

    Last year the European Commission – one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors – joined the partnership. The campaign’s focus turned to the work of the Commission and FAO in restoring the self-reliance of people struck by disaster.

    For more information

    Match Day Against Hunger

    Professional Football Against Hunger

    Video

    Sahel crisis

    The European Commission's work in the Sahel

    Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva's website 

    More front page news

    Last update: 29/03/2012  |Top