Friday, September 11, 2015

Multi-millionaires of world football take action on refugee crisis

GENEVA: The world of football continued to mobilise on Tuesday as wealthy European clubs proposed a series of money-raising projects to help the on-going refugee crisis.

Following AS Roma’s gesture to donate 575,000 euros ($643,000) as well as jerseys worn by stars Francesco Totti, Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic to the newly-launched “Football Cares” auction site, the European Association of football clubs (ECA) announced a generous plan involving teams playing the Champions League and Europa League competitions.

Clubs have committed to giving one euro ($1.12) per ticket sold in their first continental matches this season, the ECA announced.

All 80 clubs have committed to the initiative with the money — estimated between €2m-€3m ($2.2m and $3.3m) going into a fund created by the ECA.

“This decision was decided unanimously following an FC Porto initiative,” explained the ECA’s recently re-elected German president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“Football must take its share of responsibility. Clubs must make a contribution to help refugees, a grave and serious problem.

Roma president James Pallotta provided 250,000 euros ($280,000) from the 575,000 gifted by the Italian club, which threw in another 325,000 euros ($363,000) thanks to funding from shareholders and club assets.

The three Roma jerseys to be auctioned were worn during matches with 36-year-old captain Totti’s worn when he scored against CSKA Moscow in Russia last season, to beat his own record as the oldest scorer in a Champions League match.

Those of Dzeko and Pjanic were worn by the Bosnian duo during last week’s 2-1 Serie A win over Juventus in which they both scored.

The auction on will end on Friday, September 11 with the jerseys delivered to their purchasers in a numbered frame with a Certificate of Authentication issued by the club.

Roma said that all money raised would be donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Red Cross and Non-Governmental Organisation’s (NGO’s) such as Save The Children and International Rescue Committee.

“Football has the power to reach millions of people and by rallying behind ‘Football Cares’ we can change things. It doesn’t matter whether donations are small,” the club said in a statement.

Solidarity movement

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich stars Javier Martinez and Mario Goetze appealed for internauts on Twitter to join the solidarity movement to help the masses of refugees from as far as Syria, Iraq and Somalia who have been arriving in Munich since last weekend.

“Today, I continue with #RefugiesWelcome. We are involved in this challenge” wrote Martinez who handed out clothes and footballs to refugees at the city train station last weekend, while other Bundesliga clubs, such as Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, Mainz and Borussia Moenchengladbach have made substantial donations.

The French Football Federation (FFF) have also come forward with 100,000 euros ($112,000) to a refugee association based in northern port city of Calais where thousands of desperate migrants have attempted to board Eurostar trains bound for the United Kingdom.

On Saturday, Real Madrid announced a donation of one million euros ($1.12m) to refugees that have arrived in Spain and provided shelter while Bayern Munich announced a similar proposal and also introduced other money-making projects.

Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger was one of many top figures denouncing the xenophobic attacks on the influx of migrants and launched an appeal for their protection.

Four-time European player of the year Lionel Messi said the dreadful conditions suffered by the migrants was “inconceivable” on his Facebook account and called for help for his charity organisations, which include one for Syrian refugee children who are waiting for help in Jordan.