Global perspective Human stories

European football clubs team up with UN to score against world hunger

European football clubs team up with UN to score against world hunger

The Association of the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) today mustered its more than 900 member clubs to support the United Nations in its fight against hunger in the latest case of international sports teaming up with the Organization to advance humanitarian causes.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf signed a cooperation agreement in Lisbon with David Richards, EPFL President and Chairman of England’s Premier League, to promote a series of initiatives to sensitize the public on issues related to food security, including fund-raising.

“The two organizations believe that the power of football is a key tool in development and in advocating for the fight against hunger and towards the achievement of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) – to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and poverty in the world by 2015,” FAO said in a news release.

“With this strategy, the two organizations hope that football will become a tool for advocacy with the ultimate goal of improving living conditions for the world’s poorest people and a means to mobilize resources in the fight against global hunger.”

EPFL consists of 27 member and associated member leagues, comprising more than 900 football clubs across Europe. Top European players already helping FAO in its fight against hunger include former star of Juventus and Inter, Italy’s Roberto Baggio, and Spain’s Raúl Gonzalez, captain of Real Madrid. Both are FAO Goodwill Ambassadors.

Last month, FAO signed a similar agreement signed with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to mount solidarity campaigns, such as national or regional food security programmes, TeleFood projects and cultural and sporting events held to promote the development of agriculture, nutrition and the environment.

These initiatives, in the framework of World Food Day and TeleFood activities, will draw attention to the plight of the more than 850 million hungry around the world and raise funds to support FAO micro-projects to help families and poor communities to produce their own food.

One example, among the more than 2,500 small-scale existing projects in 130 countries, are school gardens where students learn how to grow their own crops and breed livestock, and also benefit from meals at school prepared with the food they produce.

The campaign is but the latest in a whole series of collaborations between UN agencies and world sport, which has seen the likes of football legends Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane shooting against poverty, the European Swimming League in “a race against time” to prevent deaths from unclean water and the Cricket World Cup batting for the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Similar initiatives have involved the International Rugby Board, American football stars, marathon runners and Formula One auto racers.