European Professional Football sounds the alarm on the Sahel

Sahel Emergency - III Match Day Against Hunger Banner 

MATCH DAY AGAINST HUNGER FROM 30 MARCH – 2 APRIL

29 March 2012, Brussels, Nyon, Rome – The “Professional Football Against Hunger” campaign is coming to hundreds of football stadiums across Europe, with the message that action is needed now to avert a humanitarian disaster in the Sahel region of Africa, where millions of people are facing hunger due to drought, poor harvests and rising food prices.

Promoted by the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), the European Commission and the UN’s food and agriculture agency FAO, the third and biggest-ever Match Day Against Hunger kicks off on 30 March to spread this call for urgent action.
 
By the time the last match is played on 2 April, the campaign’s message and activities will have swept across the continent from Glasgow to Athens from Lisbon to Novosibirsk, involving 300 professional football clubs in 20 Leagues throughout 16 European countries,   reaching millions of football fans.
 
“We must act now to help people feed themselves’s aid José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “At the same time, we need to build resilience in local communities to stop jumping from crisis to crisis, and to prevent droughts from leading inevitably to famine.”
 
“Football is the perfect vehicle for highlighting the plight of the people in the Sahel,” said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. “To respond properly to this emergency, governments, donors and aid agencies need to be united. Together, we can save lives.”
 
“Football is the great global unifier,” said Sir David Richards, Chairman of the EPFL. “The Leagues and the players know the power and popularity of our sport and we are proud to use that power to tell stories that otherwise would not be told. European Professional Football is providing the megaphone for this message so that the right help can get to the people in need as soon as possible.”
 
FAO Goodwill Ambassador and Spanish football star Raúl González Blanco said, “We need public support for food crises like this one. No one knows like footballers how crucial it is to have the stadium on your side to win the match.”
 
Patrick Vieira, former French international star player and also Goodwill Ambassador for FAO, was born in Senegal, one of the affected countries. “We have a responsibility to those who are in distress through no fault of their own,” he said.  “The right to food a basic human right and no one in today’s world should go hungry”.
 
Former international star and Ambassador from the Bulgarian Professional Football League Hristo Stoitchkov visited Burkina Faso last year to see the joint work of the European Union and FAO up close. He said, “I have witnessed the life-saving, life-changing work of ECHO and FAO first hand. They help people to feed themselves today and prepare for tomorrow. It’s the right kind of help getting to the right people.”
 
Former Italian National team goalkeeper and Campaign’s Ambassador from the Italian Lega Serie A Francesco Toldo highlighted that, “The people of the Sahel may think the world has forgotten them. This weekend, European football will stand in solidarity with them. They will know that they are not alone.”
 
Spanish international and Campaign’s Ambassador from the Spanish LFP Roberto Soldado expressed, “Together we can prevent this crisis from turning into a full scale catastrophe.”
 
Felix Magath, former footballer and active coach in the German Bundesliga stated, “We will ask our fans to join with us in calling for urgent help to the Sahel. United in this one cause we can truly make a difference”.
 
Other Football Ambassadors of the Campaign include Herbert Prohaska (appointed by the Österreichische Fußball Bundesliga – Austria); Steffen Freund (DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH – Germany); Vidar Riseth (Norsk Toppfotball – Norway), Jerzy Dudek (Polish Professional Football League) and Alexey Medvedev (Football National League of Russia).
 
BACKGROUND
 
Match Day Against Hunger is the flagship event of the “Professional Football Against Hunger” campaign, launched in 2008 by the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), representing the 30 largest professional football leagues and almost 800 clubs across Europe, and FAO, the United Nations agency leading international efforts to defeat hunger.
 
Last year the European Community Humanitarian aid Office (ECHO) – one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors – joined the partnership. The campaign’s focus turned to the work of ECHO and FAO in restoring the self-reliance of people struck by disaster.
 
Emergencies have the most devastating consequences for rural communities, where people depend mainly on agriculture for survival. FAO and ECHO help these communities return to farming so that they can feed themselves again. They also aim to address the underlying causes of vulnerability to increase people’s resilience to future shocks. 
 
PARTICIPATING LEAGUES 

Österreichische Fußball Bundesliga (Austria)
Pro League (Belgium)
Bulgarian Professional Football League (Bulgaria)
The Premier League (England, UK)
The Football League (England, UK)
DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH (Germany)
Super League Greece (Greece)
Lega Serie A (Italy)
Lega Serie B (Italy)
Lega Pro (Italy)
Eredivisie NV (The Netherlands)
Norsk Toppfotball (Norway)
Polish Professional Football League (Poland)
Liga Portugal (Portugal)
Russian Football Premier League (Russian Federation)
Football National League of Russia (Russian Federation)
Scottish Premier League (Scotland, UK)
Union of 1. SNL (Slovenia)
Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (Spain)
Ukrainian Premier League (Ukraine)
 
 
LINKS

Match Day Against Hunger
http://www.endinghunger.org/en/actagitate/match_day_against_hunger_2012.html
 
Professional Football Against Hunger
http://www.europeanleagues.com/fao/
 
Sahel crisis
www.fao.org/crisis/sahel/
 
ECHO: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/
FAO: http://www.fao.org

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