|© Getty Images/2008|
|FC Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o holds up a shirt showing the staggering number of children under 15 currently living with HIV globally, ahead of his team’s Champions League semi-final.|
BARCELONA, Spain, 23 April 2008 – They are fierce competitors on the football pitch, playing in front of millions of fans and television viewers. But just before the match that took place at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, both Manchester United and Football Club Barcelona put aside their rivalries to join UNICEF and the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign.
Their goal is twofold: to win the next leg of the UEFA Champions League and to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS. Both club presidents and players from these two premier football clubs are calling on the world to take action against HIV and AIDS.
During a pre-match meeting between the competing teams, FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta and Manchester United President David Gill shook hands and spoke of their commitment to more than just a football win.
“We are committed to our support of UNICEF and its children and AIDS campaign,” said Mr. Laporta. “We are calling on football supporters worldwide and the football community to recognize that urgent action is needed to help halt the devastating impact of HIV on children everywhere.”
|© FC Barcelona/2008|
|FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta and Manchester United President David Gill shake hands right before the game.|
The impact is 'shattering'
At the training session ahead of the match, both the UNICEF Spain National Ambassador from FC Barcelona, Samuel Eto'o, and Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand held up shirts showing the staggering figure of 2.1 million, which is the number of children under 15 who are currently living with HIV.
Mr. Ferdinand added his voice to the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“To see the impact of HIV on young people is shattering,” he said. “Children are truly bearing the brunt, with HIV robbing countless youngsters of their parents, their communities, their hopes and ultimately their futures.”
Young people now account for an increasing number of new HIV infections. In the 90 minutes it will take for Manchester United to play FC Barcelona, approximately 50 children will die as a result of AIDS.
|© Getty Images/2008|
|Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand holds up a shirt to drive home the number of children affected by HIV.|
A long-running collaboration
In 1999, Manchester United became the first British football club to take the initiative in developing an active partnership between UNICEF and the world of football – ‘United for UNICEF’.
The partnership, the longest-running collaboration between a Premier League football club and a global charity, has raised more than $3.9 million to date, helping over 1.5 million children across the globe, including young people affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa, Asia, China and India. Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the partnership.
In 2006, FC Barcelona and UNICEF signed a five-year partnership to raise awareness on behalf of children affected by HIV and AIDS. Each year, the club donates some $2 million to help fund projects aimed at combating AIDS.
Along with the funding, the FC Barcelona is featuring the UNICEF logo on its jersey, the first placement of its kind in the club's 107-year history.
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