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Manchester United announces four year plan to lend sports leadership to UNICEF to deliver development targets for children

BEIJING, 26 July 2005 – Manchester United today announced a four-year pledge to use their leadership in sport to assist UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, in achieving its development targets for children.  Speaking at a press conference in Beijing Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill was joined by Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs and Chinese player Dong Fangzhuo *.

The announcement takes the well-established ‘United for UNICEF’ partnership from six years into a ten-year public-private partnership making it the longest collaboration between a premiership football club and a global charity. Since the partnership began in 1999, Manchester United has raised over £1.5 million for UNICEF directly helping over 1.5 million children. 

The new four-year agreement will see Manchester United invest practical and financial support to enhance and support UNICEF’s pioneering Sport for Development work. UNICEF is incorporating the power and potential of sport into country programmes across the world to promote the healthy development of children and teach important life lessons such as respect, leadership, cooperation and equality.  Sport is recognised by the UN as a powerful and cost-effective way to advance the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed set of development targets, which underpin UNICEF’s work. 

Today, children from Sichuan Province, China were the first to benefit as players handed over 500 Sport-in-a-Box kits to those involved in a Manchester United funded programme to educate school children about the risks of trafficking.  Filled with all the essential tools to play a range of team sports, Sport-in-a-Box will assist the programme by creating an informal, playful environment where children are more receptive to the dissemination of important trafficking prevention messages.

Trafficking of women and children in China is high on the agenda of the Government of China and UNICEF.  The Manchester United funded pilot venture in Sichuan focuses on the all important prevention aspect, by investing in the education of children to avoid them being trafficked in the first place. Funding of the pilot is integral to building a tried and tested model which can then be replicated and expanded to other provinces.  This is not the first time that Manchester United has invested in China. In 2000, players featured in a no smoking campaign and in 2004 the club committed to funding an HIV/AIDS prevention programme in Yunnan Province.

Over the next four years Manchester United will continue to contribute practical expertise to UNICEF’s Sport for Development projects. Support is likely to range from creating football coaching materials, rolling out United for UNICEF’s citizenship programme ‘Soccerwise’ which uses football to encourage young people to develop as good citizens, to players participating in sports tournaments and clinics in countries where UNICEF works.

The move to closer integration into UNICEF’s grassroots programme work is a reflection of the strategic nature of the United for UNICEF corporate partnership. Over the course of six years the essence of the partnership has evolved from a focus on fundraising to incorporating practical support where Manchester United is uniquely placed to help UNICEF achieve its mandate.   Today’s pledge exemplifies a truly integrated partnership with support from all levels of the club - players, fans, the board and employees - directed at three important areas of UNICEF’s work; fundraising, advocacy and delivering grassroots programmes for children.

Dr Christian Voumard, UNICEF Representative, China said: “Globally, UNICEF is very proud of the United for UNICEF partnership. Today’s announcement puts us in a powerful and unique position to direct Manchester United’s expertise in the world of sport to assist our work to achieve the priorities for children around the world. We are delighted that the children of China will be the first to benefit from this invaluable support”

David Gill, Manchester United Chief Executive said “We are pleased to announce the renewal of our partnership with UNICEF and will be immensely proud to see it grow into a ten year partnership helping children all over the world.  I speak not only for myself but for our players, employees and fans who continue to back and support UNICEF as our chosen international charity partner.  We all look forward lending our experience in football and in sport to UNICEF to help enhance and support grassroots programmes for children which use sport to inspire, engage and develop children and deliver UNICEF’s goals”

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United Manager and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador added “UNICEF’s work is close to my heart. We at Manchester United are in a position to give something back to society and I firmly believe we have a responsibility to do so. It is inspiring to see our players using their international profile to deliver important social messages to children worldwide”

For further information:

Lara Schlotterbeck, UNICEF-UK, (+44) 7957 227 401 laras@unicef.org.uk

Charles Rycroft, UNICEF-China,(+86-10) 6532-3131 Ext 1301 / Mob: +13641290007 crycroft@unicef.org

Notes to Editors :

*Dong Fangzhuo is registered with Royal Antwerp, guesting for Manchester United

Human trafficking should not be confused with the smuggling of people.  The smuggling of human beings takes place with the consent of the travellers.  Trafficking on the other hand implies something much worse, that the travellers are unwilling or unknowing victims.  UN Definition - Trafficking in persons means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by the use of threat, force or other forms of coercion, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

The UN believes that the number of children trafficked annually, internally and externally, is around 1.2 million.  Asia is one of the regions with the largest number of trafficked women and children. Statistics show that every year more than 10,000 women and children are rescued from trafficking by Chinese public security departments. Children of all ages are affected. In China, poverty, lack of opportunities in rural areas and education are all parts of the picture.

Sport for Development
In 2002 UNICEF was part of a special task-force convened by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to review activities involving sport in the United Nations. The resulting report concluded that sport – from play and physical education to organised and competitive sport – is a powerful and cost-effective way to advance the Millennium Development Goals, the agenda agreed to by world leaders. UNICEF is incorporating the power and potential of sport into country programmes across the world to promote the healthy development of children and teach important life lessons such as respect, leadership, cooperation and equality. 

United for UNICEF
Manchester United was the first premiership football club to partner with UNICEF and the resulting partnership is now the longest public-private partnership between a premiership football club and international charity.  For the first three years the focus of the partnership was on supporting UNICEF’s education projects. Since 2003, Manchester United has been committed to raising money and awareness specifically for UNICEF UK’s campaign to End Child Exploitation across the world. Since launch in 1999 United for UNICEF has raised over £1.5 million for children worldwide - directly impacting over 1.5 million children. Countries that United for UNICEF has reached include long-term development work in India, Thailand and China as well as Emergency relief work in Tsunami affected countries, Iraq, Afghanistan.




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