PANAMA CITY/MIAMI, 6 July 2005 – UNICEF and CONCACAF announced today that the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup will be dedicated to UNICEF and the children of Latin America and the Caribbean with a special message to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and violence.
“We have started a dynamic dialogue between UNICEF and the soccer associations in Central America and the Caribbean on how we can protect children and build values starting at a young age,” said Nils Kastberg, Regional Director of UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Through the Gold Cup we have an opportunity to reach millions of soccer fans to educate them on the risks of HIV/AIDS infection, on the importance of stopping violent behavior and other key messages to protect young lives.”
Ten countries from the CONCACAF region and guest teams Colombia and South Africa will battle for the trophy under the slogan “With Children We Win.” The Gold Cup will be played in seven stadiums in six cities across the United States from the 6 to 24 of July 2005.
The special focus on HIV/AIDS and violence is due to the particular importance these issues carry in the CONCACAF region. With a prevalence rate of 2.3 per cent, the Caribbean region has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, next to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Latin America is one of the most violent regions in the world, with children and women the main victims. Sixteen per cent of children in Latin America and the Caribbean assert that they are being maltreated in their homes, either through physical or verbal abuse.
“We need to work in partnership to get girls and boys on to sports fields and playgrounds, and to educate children and their families about the benefits of sports. UNICEF has a long standing cooperation with FIFA as well as CONMEBOL and CONCACAF to develop programmes to guarantee children´s right to play,” said Kastberg from Madrid.
Soccer is an integrated part of several UNICEF-supported projects aimed at preventing HIV/AIDS and violence throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
In Honduras, the Football for Life programme promotes HIV/AIDS prevention and helps protect young people from sexual exploitation and child labour. In Colombia, Football for Peace helps communities reach out to all children, including current and former child soldiers. Some 20,000 children and adolescents were reached in 2004.
Earlier this year, UNICEF and UNCAF (Unión Centroamericana de Fútbol) formed a partnership to use soccer as a tool for promoting the rights of children and adolescents in the region. The subsequent UNCAF Cup in Guatemala was dedicated to the children of Central America.
In February, Nils Kastberg participated in the CFU (Caribbean Football Union) congress, together with Jack Warner, President of the CFU, and Chuck Blazer, Head of CONCACAF. That proved to be an excellent opportunity for dialogue with the 32 national soccer associations in the Caribbean.
For further information please contact:
Viviana Limpias, UNICEF Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, + (507) 315-7481, firstname.lastname@example.org