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At a glance: Japan

In Japan, FC Barcelona raises AIDS awareness and support for children at risk

UNICEF Image: Tokyo, Barcelona, UNICEF, Football
© UNICEF Japan/2007
At Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium, children wearing UNICEF t-shirts display a flag with messages from youths around the world.

YOKOHAMA, Japan, 9 August 2007 – Thousands of FC Barcelona fans walked into Nissan Stadium here earlier this week dressed in their team jerseys, eager to see football stars such as Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o and the squad’s latest addition, Thierry Henry, in action.

But besides enjoying the sportsmanship of their heroes, the spectators were able to witness Barca’s commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS through its partnership with UNICEF and the global campaign, Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS.

As the crowd cheered, six children dressed in bright yellow UNICEF t-shirts walked onto the pitch, followed by the whole FC Barcelona team. The children waved a large flag featuring both the Barca and UNICEF logos, along with hand-written messages of support from youths all over the world.

One of the flag bearers, Kohei, later pronounced the experience “cool." Sizuka, another one of the children, added: "I was so nervous before. But I could enjoy it!"

Face-to-face fundraising

For the next 90 minutes, as part of their pre-season Asian tour, FC Barcelona played a friendly game with the Yokohama Marinos – with a final score of 1-0 in favour of the visiting team. At the same time, 90 UNICEF volunteers spread the word about young people and AIDS to the almost 50,000 spectators in attendance.

UNICEF Image: Tokyo, Barcelona, UNICEF, Football
© UNICEF Japan/2007
An FC Barcelona fan at the team’s match with the Yokohama Marinos wears a UNICEF-Barca scarf, one of the co-branded products sold for fundraising by the Japan Committee for UNICEF.

In addition, six co-branded UNICEF-Barca products – created for the event by the Japan Committee for UNICEF – were selling out, with the proceeds earmarked to fund UNICEF programmes.

Masahiro Nagatoshi, a volunteer who took part in the face-to-face fundraising drive at the stadium, called it a “wonderful opportunity” and pledged to “continue to support UNICEF as much as I can.”

Five-year commitment

The partnership between UNICEF and FC Barcelona makes the most of the power and potential of sport to raise funds and awareness on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. To give even greater meaning to their slogan, ‘More than a club’, FC Barcelona has committed $1.9 million to UNICEF every year for five years to fund programmes in Swaziland and elsewhere.

Funds raised from the event in Yokohama will contribute to programmes for AIDS-affected young people.

As one enthusiastic fan at Nissan Stadium put it: “By supporting my club, Barca, I was able to support children. What a wonderful day it was.”




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