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Press release

Real Madrid, UNICEF launch parternship

Building a World Fit for Children

MADRID, 25 February 2004.- Ms. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund; Mr. Florentino Pérez, Real Madrid President and Francisco González-Bueno, UNICEF-Spain President launched today a new partnership between Real Madrid FC and UNICEF Spain to work for children's rights.

Real  Madrid  and  the  Spanish  Committee  for  UNICEF have already worked together  in  Spain on fundraising activities and education for development programmes.  Vowing  to  strengthen  their  commitment  through this formal alliance,  both Real Madrid and UNICEF will contribute to the fulfilment of the  Millennium Development Goals, which are fundamental to achieve a world fit for children.

In partnership with UNICEF Spain, Real Madrid FC will work to improve the lives of children by harnessing the power of football and the global influence of the team and drawing attention to children's issues. Coupling the most renowned football club in the world and the world's largest organization working for children will mean a powerful team striving to improve the well-being of children.

"We are looking forward to working with UNICEF on issues of vital importance to children, as this is an area we have worked in for several years," said Mr. Florentino Pérez, Real Madrid President.  "We take great pride in being associated with the good work that UNICEF is doing in favour of children, who are particularly vulnerable and in need of protection."

UNICEF works with governments, civil society, institutions and people from the world of arts, culture and sports.

"UNICEF  is  proud  of  this  partnership  and  looking  forward to working together  with Real Madrid and UNICEF Spain," said Carol Bellamy. "Together we will use the power of sports to make a difference for children and young people around the world."

Role of sport

Sport  is  an  effective  tool  for psychosocial recovery of those children victims  of violence, abuses and exploitation, it provides a forum to learn skills  such  as  discipline, confidence and leadership and it teaches core principles  such as tolerance, cooperation  and  respect.  Besides,  the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children should enjoy the basic right to play, regardless of gender, ability or ethnicity.

Football  has  a very important role in many UNICEF's programmes around the world.  During  the  armed  conflicts  in  the Balkans, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone,  Georgia  or Sudan, the practice of football addressed the trauma of conflict and the distress resulting from displacement.

Elsewhere, education programmes in Kenya, Liberia and Honduras use football to  support  HIV/AIDS  prevention  campaigns.  In Brazil, UNICEF supports a detention  centre  for young people in trouble with the law. After academic classes,  they  play  football, learn judo and practise gymnastics, helping them to channel frustrations and learn new ways to deal with anger.

In a world where many children suffer through armed conflict, poverty, displacement and the threat of HIV/AIDS, childhood itself can be difficult to preserve. But even in the direst circumstances, children will play - and they will play everywhere, from football fields to refugee camps.

Football is a universal language for millions of children across the world. Football is more than "just a game", it is a positive lifestyle. It teaches children to trust each other, lures them away from drugs and violence and provides them with a protective environment - where they can grow up healthy, fit and self-confident.


For more information, please contact:

UNICEF-Spanish National Committee
Tel.  + 34 91 378 95 58  -  + 34 679 95 7578

            Elena Crego, Head of Communication ecrego@unicef.es
        Cristina Miguel, Communication Direction, cmiguel@unicef.es




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