ROME, March 21 – Over 963 million people are currently suffering from hunger worldwide and this dramatic trend.
This must be reversed.
The Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) and its 29 members and associate Members have joined forces with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in battling starvation.
During the weekend of 20-22 March 2009, for the “Match Day against Hunger”, hundreds of professional football matches across Europe will be dedicated to raising awareness about this growing problem.
Several initiatives, including “Professional Football Against Hunger” banners, t-shirts worn by the players entering the field and screenings of videos about FAO TeleFood projects will see the stadiums of the European Professional Football Leagues at the centre of this awareness campaign.
The FAO-EPFL partnership serves “to sensitize public opinion about the devastating problem of hunger that still affects as many as 963 million people,” says FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.
“We are very proud of our League’s ability to generate economic development, employment and progress in many areas. That’s why the EPFL and member leagues have joined FAO at the forefront of the fight against hunger. United, we can make a difference,” adds Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, Chief Executive Officer of the EPFL.
The events on the football field will be backed up by a donation campaign to support FAO’s TeleFood projects.
This grassroots approach to alleviating hunger will finance micro-projects designed to provide immediate and lasting solutions to poor families and communities and enable them to produce their own food. To date FAO has developed more than 2 700 TeleFood projects in 130 countries.
Team supporters are invited to participate and to make donations through SMS and online fundraising for FAO’s TeleFood projects.
European football greats Raúl Gonzalez, Paolo Rossi, Hirsto Stoichkov, Hansi Müller and Fernando Couto are among the many football stars who will be supporting or playing this weekend’s in leagues matches dedicated to raising awareness of the shocking number of 963 million of hunger victims worldwide.
Hansi Müller, Ambassador of the German Bundesliga and Paolo Rossi, Ambassador of the Italian Lega Calcio, who visited some of these projects in Egypt, are convinced of the positive impact of these small scale projects on poor rural people. For Paolo Rossi, “soccer is a fantastic means of getting the message across, children recognize the players and listen to what we have to say”.
“Poverty and hunger cause much suffering throughout the world. Football is the most popular sport on this planet and its language is global. We in Scotland are pleased to add our voice to this universal language to help raise awareness and take forward action to tackle hunger and its causes”, says Lex Gold Executive Chairman of the Scottish Premier League.
Real Madrid’s Raul Gonzalez adds that “the poorest people are the most affected by the economic crisis. Like football, the fight against hunger means sacrifice, perseverance and commitment.”
Bulgarian former player and campaign Ambassador Hristo Stoichkov trusts that “this campaign will remind everybody it reaches that there are human beings who are not in the position to take care of their food.”
Ferdinando Couto, Portuguese football star, “is proud of the partnership of the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional with FAO through EPFL to work together to solve the problem of hunger and under-nutrition.” He will attend the 2009 Carlsberg CUP Final dedicated to the campaign.
“During my career as a football-professional I have seen so many parts of the world. And I always realized that I am lucky being in a much better position than so many other people. Now I am in the position to give back a bit and to help people by advising on the fatal living conditions of more than 900 million people”, says Dietmar Kühbauer, Ambassador from Austrian League.
Finally, Roberto Baggio, former Italian star addressed a strong appeal to the football supporters, saying “your help is needed to give a new impulse to the solidarity process to create a world free from hunger.”