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United Kingdom

UK ‘Soccer Aid’ charity event raises more than £2 million for UNICEF

© UNICEF UK/2005/Irby
UNICEF UK Ambassador and actor Ewan McGregor with children at a community-based child care centre in Cedric village, Malawi. The visit was featured in a film made for Soccer Aid.

NEW YORK, USA, 5 June 2006 – A charity soccer match in England has raised more than £2 million ($3.7 million) for UNICEF after 72,000 soccer fans poured into Old Trafford stadium, home of Manchester United, to watch two celebrity teams in action.

The ‘Soccer Aid’ event was conceived by UNICEF UK Ambassador and singer Robbie Williams.

“I have been an Ambassador for UNICEF since 2000, and some of the best moments of my life have been spent with children in Mozambique, Sri Lanka and South Africa,” said Mr. Williams. “During my last UNICEF trip, I met so many kids who gave me reason to smile. Now through UNICEF, its partners and Soccer Aid, I want to be able to give them something to smile about too.”

World Cup football legends Diego Maradona, Ruud Gullit and Gianfranco Zola joined forces with other famous names – including singer-songwriter David Gray, Australian Rugby Union star David Campese and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s former Press Secretary, Alastair Campbell – in a final match between ‘England’, captained by Mr. Williams, and ‘The Rest of the World’, captained by Scottish chef Gordon Ramsey.

By a score of 2-1, ‘England’ won the game, which was shown live on the British television channel ITV.

© UNICEF UK/2006
UNICEF UK Ambassador and singer Robbie Williams, organizer of the Soccer Aid fundraising and awareness campaign.

Every penny makes a difference

Money raised from Soccer Aid ticket sales and public donations will benefit specific UNICEF projects in health, education, nutrition, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS and child protection.

Five other long-time UNICEF supporters joined Mr. Williams by taking part in films made by Soccer Aid to raise awareness about UNICEF’s work:

  • Mr. Williams saw UNICEF’s work in South Africa to support children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS
  • Football icon and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham recorded a film about the scourge of malaria
  • Actor and UNICEF UK Ambassador Ewan McGregor travelled to Malawi to observe the response to the nutrition crisis there
  • Actor and UNICEF UK Ambassador James Nesbitt saw UNICEF’s work on girls’ education in Zambia
  • Model, actress and UNICEF UK Ambassador Elle Macpherson visited programmes in Ukraine working to prevent children from being abandoned
  • And actor Paul Bettany visited clean-water projects in Mozambique.

“Soccer Aid is a great achievement for children across the world,” said UNICEF UK Executive Director David Bull. “I would like to thank everyone involved, especially the British public, for their enormous generosity.

“UNICEF’s work relies entirely on voluntary donations,” continued Mr. Bull, “and because of Soccer Aid we will be able to reach hundreds and thousands of vulnerable children to give them the best possible chance in life. Every single penny contributed will make a difference.”




See Soccer Aid players with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at Number 10 Downing Street. Courtesy of Endemol/ITV.
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Related links

UNICEF - 2006 FIFA World Cup


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