The United Nations Development Programme again mobilized its team of top football players to compete against a European football club to raise both funds for and awareness of the extreme poverty challenges facing the world.
This year, two thirds of the match proceeds will be used to bolster recovery efforts in the Philippines, where more than 5,000 people lost their lives to Typhoon Haiyan, with almost 1 million people displaced and an estimated further 11.8 million affected.
To bolster the local economy UNDP has already begun a cash-for-work project clearing debris in Tacloban, and will continue its efforts to help those who have lost homes, businesses and jobs as a result of the typhoon.
Brazilian female football legend and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Marta Vieira da Silva joined the all male team for only the second time in the Match’s history, calling attention to the plight of women and noting that this Saturday, 8 March, is International Women’s Day. “When women are lifted out of poverty, families are lifted out of poverty, and the world has more hope.”
“This latest chapter of the Match against takes us back to Switzerland, where we started out 11 years ago”, noted Zinédine Zidane.
“I am very happy to be in a position to be able to contribute to the important cause championed by UNDP,” said Ronaldo, speaking to a press conference an hour before the Match. “All three of us footballers up here on the podium grew up in poverty. If our lives and our game can contribute to its reduction then the beautiful game will truly be beautiful.”
Hakan Şükür, who is a Turkish football legend, also took part in the match and scored one goal for Ronaldo, Zidane and friends team.
The first edition of the UNDP Match Against Poverty was held in Basel in 2003. Since then the match has taken place in Madrid, Dusseldorf, Marseille, Malaga, Fes, Lisbon, Athens, Hamburg and Porto Alegre, Brazil. Each match, which is televised around the world, has supported specific projects in different countries facing difficult challenges.
Although a friendly match, the players competed with passion as though it were a World Cup playoff match, ending 8:6 for the team of all-stars from UNDP.