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News note

2004 America Cup dedicated to Peruvian children

UNICEF and South American Soccer Federation form partnership

ASUNCIÓN-PARAGUAY, 7 May 2004 - The America Cup/Peru 2004 will be dedicated to the children of Peru.  The announcement was made today by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the South American Soccer Federation (CONMEBOL). The international soccer tournament -- one of the region's most important biennial sports' events -- will take place in July in six cities of Peru.

Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Nicolas Leoz, President of CONMEBOL, issued a joint declaration and signed an agreement outlining the partnership in Asuncion, where CONMEBOL has its headquarters. "This is a great opportunity to show what soccer is really about and how it can improve the lives of millions of children by promoting the objectives of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the international community's Millennium Development Goals” said Kastberg at the signing ceremony.

A series of activities relating to children have been scheduled for the 18 soccer matches during the month of July. The organizers and UNICEF are developing a joint communication strategy that includes special participation of children in the stadiums and a high level seminar at the end of the tournament to discuss the power of soccer and sports in general in the promotion of children's rights.

Promotional and other activities will help to reach millions of soccer fans with messages on the importance of safeguarding children's rights, with special focus on the first three years of life.  Some of the America Cup sponsors have already shown great interest in joining this initiative for the children of Peru.

The situation of under-3 year old Peruvian children is not particularly encouraging, especially in rural Andes and Amazon areas, where chronic malnutrition impairs the development of children.  Peruvian authorities are particularly concerned with this situation since the first three years of life are absolutely critical for the healthy intellectual and physical development of the child. .  

Recently, Arturo Woodman, President of the America Cup/Peru 2004 Organizing Committee, expressed profound satisfaction and his utter commitment to this initiative. “I have visited various Andean communities and have seen with my own eyes the wonderful work UNICEF is developing with and for the children who live in extreme poverty. This is a golden opportunity for the Cup to give life to the rights of children, especially those under three years of age”.

Earlier, Andrés Franco, UNICEF Representative in Peru, emphasized that this initiative “is an extraordinary opportunity to reach millions of soccer fans in Peru and Latin America with a clear and unmistakably message: if the rights of children are prioritized today the path will be paved not only to have excellent soccer players and good football tomorrow, but especially will contribute decisively to have a vigorous and strong Peru”.  He added that the CONMEBOL-UNICEF alliance will "place soccer -- the world's most popular sport -- at the service of Peru's  most important resource: its children”.

UNICEF has been working for 54 years in Peru. Currently, its Co-operation Programme helps to improve the lives of children in extreme poverty in hundreds of rural Andean and Amazon communities. Programs are mainly focused on ensuring the full intellectual and physical development of children, through adequate nutrition, health, protection and family and community support. 

Today’s announcement reflects the commitment of the America Cup organizers to contribute to UNICEF Peru’s community work in early child growth and development.

This is the first time a Latin American sports tournament of this magnitude is dedicated to the children of the host country.  The UNICEF-CONMEBOL alliance is a regional outcome of the global partnership between UNICEF and FIFA during the 2002 Japan-Korea World Cup, that will continue with the 2006 World Cup that will take place in Germany.

Organized by CONMEBOL, the AMERICA CUP/PERU 2004 is the 41st edition of the most important international soccer tournament in Latin America that takes place every two years in a different country of the region. This year 12 countries will compete for the championship trophy: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay,and Venezuela,

For more information contact:
Cesar Fonseca, Information Officer UNICEF-PERU
cfonseca@unicef.org,  (51-1) 213-0707, cel. 9737-8254

Nestor Benitez, Communication Director, CONMEBOL- Paraguay
nbenitez@conmebol.com.py, (595-21) 645-781

Cecilia Sirtori, Communication Assistant UNICEF-Paraguay,
csirtori@unicef.org,  (595) 21-611007/8 cel:  (595) 981-504241





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