Date Published: 27 May 2009

Football rivals united in the goal of an AIDS free generation

Joint statement from David Gill, Chief Executive, Manchester United and Joan Laporta, President, FC Barcelona in advance of the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final, Rome:

At 20.45 CET (19.45pm GMT) on Wednesday 27 May, the eyes of the world will be on Rome as our two clubs, Manchester United and FC Barcelona meet in the UEFA Champions League Final for the first time in our histories.

Many people have called this match the 'dream final'; the meeting of the champions of England and the champions of Spain, the current European champions verses the 2006 holders, a match between two great teams on the brink of history. The final is of huge importance to our clubs, to our fans and to each of us personally. It represents the culmination of two glittering domestic seasons. Make no mistake, our clubs are desperate to win and the game will be contested fiercely on the pitch, and with passion in the stands.

So why then, as football rivals, on the eve of such a defining match are we taking the unusual step of speaking together, with a united voice? The answer is simple. HIV and AIDS.

On the pitch Manchester United and Barcelona are great football rivals; you will see that on Wednesday. But off the pitch we are united by a common goal, a common cause - to halt the shattering impact of HIV and AIDS on children and young people globally. Together with UNICEF, the worlds leading children's organisation, we are each, in different ways, committed to tackling this life threatening virus and to giving young people affected by HIV and AIDS a better future. Together, with different approaches, we support UNICEF's 'Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS' campaign.

The figures are shocking, but are all too real. At least 2 million children under the age of 15 are currently living with HIV globally. In the 90 minutes it will take to play Wednesday's final, 50 children will die as a result of AIDS. HIV and AIDS is having a devastating impact on young people worldwide, robbing countless children of their parents, of their childhoods, of their futures and bringing despair to whole communities. But we can make a difference.

Wednesday's match will not only be followed by fans in England, Catalonia and Spain, but by passionate, hopeful supporters in all corners of the globe. This is the power of football, its capacity to bring hope and its ability to reach people across cultures. Our players are role models to millions, and we recognise that our clubs can play a vital role in changing children's lives. Together we are each committed to using this power to support UNICEF by spreading important, lifesaving messages about health, education and HIV prevention. Together we are committed to supporting vital UNICEF projects worldwide, and protecting children's rights everywhere

In 1999 Manchester United became the first British club to partner with UNICEF, successfully providing 1 million children in India with access to primary education, and actively backing UNICEF's End Child Exploitation campaign against trafficking. In 2005 we committed our support to UNICEF's global AIDS campaign. Our partnership, United for UNICEF, is the longest running of its kind and has to date raised over €2.2 million helping over 1.5 million children across the globe. 2009 marks our partnerships 10th anniversary. Through the work of the Manchester United Foundation and our partnership with UNICEF, we remain committed to young people.

In 2006, FC Barcelona and UNICEF signed a very innovative and unique five-year partnership in the international football scenario. This global alliance included the use of UNICEF logo on our jersey, the first placement of its kind in our almost 110 years of history. But beyond that, FC Barcelona is deeply engaged in supporting vulnerable children by donating €1.5 million per year, with a total of €7.5 million Euros to jointly support projects aiming at combating HIV and AIDS impact on children. To date, the global alliance between FC Barcelona and UNICEF has supported more than 100,000 children, especially in sub-Saharan African countries.

On Wednesday, rest assured our on-pitch rivalry will commence and one of our teams will make history. But off the pitch, we both hope to make history in a different way. Together with UNICEF, we are united in the goal of an AIDS free generation. We all have a role to play.


David Gill
Chief Executive, Manchester United

Joan Laporta,
President, FC Barcelona

Source: UNICEF

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