|© UNICEF Spain/2006|
|FC Real Madrid players wearing UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS armbands before their match on 3 December.|
By Patrick McCormick
BARCELONA, Spain, 5 December 2006 – More than 20 football teams, including FC Barcelona and FC Real Madrid, took part in a massive display of solidarity for children affected by HIV and AIDS this past weekend. For the first time in the history of the Spanish Premier football leagues, players wore UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS armbands at the start of their matches.
The global campaign on AIDS and young people, which was launched internationally in October 2005, kicked off in Spain last June with the help of international superstar and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira.
According to the Spanish National Committee for UNICEF, the weekend’s events served as a reminder of World AIDS Day (observed on 1 December) and its theme, ‘Keep the Promise’ – in this case, the promise of treatment, protection and support for children who are still missing out on the international response to AIDS.
The armband initiative was widely reported in the Spanish press. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of supporters who attend the games, top soccer matches in Spain have a worldwide audience.
Message to the world
UNICEF and the Spanish National Committee believe that sports can be a powerful and positive force for children. By featuring the campaign armbands, professional sports stars and leagues made a powerful statement to the world on the importance of addressing a situation that many children face every day.
Besides the Spanish footballers, players on basketball, volleyball and handball teams also wore armbands to help send the campaign message around the world. The initiative was an opportunity for them all to help win something bigger than a game for children affected by HIV and AIDS.
"Millions of children have lost their parents, their brothers and sisters, their education, and health, because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic," said Spanish National Committee President Consuelo Crespo Bofill.