Ace goal scorers to shoot against poverty in UN football match

Ace goal scorers to shoot against poverty in UN football match

Zidane and Ronaldo
Football legends Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane are inviting some of the world’s top players to join them in an all-star line-up for a match against poverty next month as part of a push to raise awareness of and funds for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The fourth “Match Against Poverty: Ronaldo and friends vs. Zidane and friends” will be played on 19 March at the Stade du Vélodrome in Marseille, France, with the two stars, both Goodwill Ambassadors for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), each captaining an international team in a friendly aimed at mobilizing the public in the fight against poverty.

“It has been really encouraging to see the response from the public and the media to the previous games,” said AC Milan striker Ronaldo, who with former French captain Zidane has been the driving force behind the Match Against Poverty since 2003. “We really want to continue mobilizing the world of football in helping to raise awareness and overcome poverty.”

This will be the first game in Europe for Zidane since he retired from international football at the end of the 2006 World Cup. “I have retired from professional football, but I am determined to continue playing in my capacity as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for such a good cause, and to contribute to this annual gathering with my friend Ronaldo,” he said.

The MDGs, adopted by the leaders of 191 countries at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, seek to halve world poverty by 2015 by setting targets for rolling back hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.

“It is a tremendous message when our Goodwill Ambassadors Ronaldo, Zidane and Drogba say they are scoring goals – not just for the game – but against poverty,” UNDP Associate Administrator Ad Melkert said, including Côte d’Ivoire soccer star Didier Drogba, a top scorer in the English Premiership, who became a UNDP a Goodwill Ambassador last month.

“Through the Match Against Poverty, millions of fans witness their heroes in soccer become heroes in the fight against extreme poverty. This message is so important because only in partnership with governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals like Ronaldo, Zidane and Drogba will we be able to truly overcome poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” he added.

Proceeds from the first three Matches have benefited anti-poverty projects ranging from support to female entrepreneurs to the construction of sports centres for street children and the disadvantaged in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, Comoros, Cuba, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Morocco, Namibia, Sri Lanka, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Viet Nam. Once again, all proceeds from ticket sales will go to projects selected by UNDP in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

As in the previous games football’s governing body, FIFA, supports the match, while sporting-goods manufacturers Nike and Adidas are contributing equipment for the teams. In partnership with UNDP, the match is being organized with the support of the City of Marseille, which is hosting the game at the Stade du Vélodrome, and the Olympique de Marseille team, which is providing technical assistance.