Refugee children were the winners in last week’s highly anticipated match-up between top football teams Manchester City and FC Barcelona, with the latter’s members sporting jerseys emblazoned with the logo of a campaign backed by the United Nations refugee agency.
The MÉS campaign – an alliance between the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), FC Barcelona and Nike – was launched last year to raise money for sports and education projects for young and vulnerable refugees.
More than 94,000 fans turned out for the 19 August pre-season 44th Joan Gamper Trophy, named after the founder of the Spanish team.
By wearing the jerseys, FC Barcelona players, who lost to Manchester City, of the English Premier League, 1-0, sought to raise awareness of the plight of the 42 million forcibly displaced people around the world, more than half of whom were receiving protection of assistance from UNHCR at the end of last year.
The club’s partnership with the UN agency “is what makes us different from our competitors,” said FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta. “It means commitment and solidarity, and Barcelona’s solidarity is now a reality.”
Only 1,899 – corresponding to the year the team was founded – of the new jerseys will be produced, and those worn by the players in last week’s game will be auctioned off next month to raise more funds for UNHCR projects worldwide.
Last year, FC Barcelona signed a three-year agreement to assist UNHCR’s “ninemillion.org” campaign to reach its goal of providing education, sport and technology to all refugee children by 2010.