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UNICEF People

David Beckham

Goodwill Ambassador

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© UNICEF/UKLA2015-00014/Buck
“We can’t turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of young children who die every day in the developing world mostly from causes that are preventable.” – David Beckham

David Beckham, the British born soccer star, is admired by legions of fans around the world for his skilful moves and powerful kicks on the field. On 10 January 2005, the former England captain was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador with a special focus on UNICEF's Sports for Development programme.

Mr. Beckham’s support for UNICEF began while at the Manchester United Football Club. In November 1999, the team began their ‘United for UNICEF’ partnership with the United Kingdom Committee to raise awareness and funds for UNICEF. Mr. Beckham and his team-mates took part in campaigns and fundraising activities to establish education and recreational programmes involving football for children around the world.

In July 2001, while on a pre-season tour in Thailand with the Manchester team, Mr. Beckham visited the UNICEF-supported Kredtrakarn Centre, meeting children as young as five who were victims of exploitation and trafficking.

Within days of his appointment, Mr. Beckham travelled to UNICEF’s Supply Division in Copenhagen to see the crucial work being done to aid children affected by the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. There he helped launch a television fundraising appeal with the recording of a public service announcement, an important asset in that campaign. 

Mr. Beckham pledged his support for the ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS’ campaign and took part in a series of films to promote the campaigns’ messages. In addition, David Beckham and his wife Victoria chose UNICEF to be one of the beneficiaries of their ‘Full length and Fabulous Party’ held on 21 May 2006, with funds raised going to support this campaign.

In his ongoing support for UNICEF, Mr. Beckham travelled to Sierra Leone in 2008 to bring attention to the country’s dire child survival conditions. His visit supported the launch of UNICEF 2008 State of the World’s Children Report, which focused on child mortality and brought worldwide coverage to the issue. Additionally, his trip to South Africa in 2009 highlighted the progress being made on limiting the transmission of mother to child HIV. 

Mr. Beckham’s support for UNICEF’s emergency work has included a visit to the Philippines in 2013 helping to launch the appeal for Typhoon Haiyan, where he met children and families affected by the disaster, in which 1.7million children were displaced and many lost their lives. The following year, he recorded a video message backing UNICEF’s fight to beat Ebola and was broadcast across Sierra Leone, one of the worst affected countries, reaching two million people.

Following his retirement from a glittering 20 year career, he marked his tenth year as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador by launching 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund (7.org) in February 2015. The Fund aims to help protect millions of children from danger and create lasting positive change for children across every region of the world and in every aspect of UNICEF’s work.

In June 2015, Mr. Beckham visited Cambodia where he met children who had suffered violence and abuse and saw how UNICEF is working to protect vulnerable children. Moved by the stories he heard, he subsequently spoke at the United Nations and called on world leaders to put children, especially the most disadvantaged, at the centre of the new Sustainable Development Goals. 

Later that year Mr. Beckham travelled to every continent on earth to find out how grassroots football brings communities together for a documentary ‘David Beckham: For the Love of the Game’. The programme shone a light on some of the challenges children are facing around the world and has been broadcast to global audiences, enabling UNICEF to communicate critical messages about its work for children. His journey culminated with The Match for Children at Old Trafford which raised over £1million for UNICEF to help children in danger around the world.

In June 2016, Mr. Beckham travelled to Swaziland to see how the 7 Fund is helping UNICEF to provide children living with HIV with life-saving treatment and care. During his visit David saw how one of the worst droughts in decades is having a devastating impact on children already made vulnerable by HIV. News of David’s visit reached millions of people and helped UNICEF communicate the need for the global community to take urgent action to help children affected by the drought.

As part of his ongoing commitment to help raise awareness of issues affecting children, Mr. Beckham worked with UNICEF to create a powerful film highlighting how violence and abuse can mark children forever. Released in December 2016, the film received 14.7 million views on social media platforms within 48 hours helping to draw attention to this silent crisis which is affecting children in every corner of the world.

Along with a number of Goodwill Ambassadors Mr. Beckham attended a special event at the United Nations headquarters in New York in December 2016 commemorating UNICEF’s work for children over the last 70 years. Whilst in New York, David illuminated the Empire State Building blue to help mark UNICEF’s 70th anniversary.

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