UEFA President Michel Platini today handed over a cheque for €500,000 from UEFA to the Japan Football Association (JFA) president Junji Ogura on the occasion of the FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Tokyo.
The presentation of the cheque is a further symbol of UEFA's support for the Japanese people following the terrible damages suffered during the natural disaster that hit the country last March. The chairman of the UEFA Finance Committee, Marios N Lefkaritis, and the European members of the FIFA Executive Committee were also present at the ceremony.
"The way the Japanese people have reacted to the terrible natural tragedies that struck them this year showcases what kind of country this is," said Mr Platini. "It is UEFA's duty to use football to support people in times of need, as football is one of the few global sports that can transcend both language and culture to bring people together. The image of players at our matches holding up banners in support of the Japanese people was, for me, an enduring symbol of this unity," continued the UEFA President.
The proposal for a financial donation to the JFA had been discussed and approved at the UEFA Executive Committee meeting on 22 September in Cyprus.
"We have decided to financially support the people of Japan through the Japan Football Association for a number of reasons," Mr Platini explained in Tokyo. "First, we were distressed and concerned by the awful natural disaster that hit the country. Second, we were moved and inspired by the dignified, exemplary reaction of the Japanese people.
"The ties of friendship between the JFA and UEFA explain the rest. In the face of this unique situation, it was obvious to us that we should help, however modestly, with the restoration and reconstruction of the affected area in Japan. Your country is always there when others need you, so it is normal and only right that we should be there when you are the ones in need of assistance."
Nine months on from the disaster that led to thousands of people losing their lives, the donation made to the JFA will be used for any relief project that is deemed necessary in order to assist the Japanese people following the earthquake and tsunami.
Right from the start of the terrible sequence of natural tragedies that struck Japan, UEFA was quick to show its support for the Japanese people. Through its website UEFA.com it arranged a relief effort to raise funds, while messages of solidarity for the Japanese population were carried by players at UEFA Champions League matches that week – a gesture that was immediately appreciated by the Japanese public at large as these games are transmitted globally. A minute's silence was also observed at UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Women's Champions League matches.
UEFA's motto is We Care About Football – but European football's governing body cares about much more than just the game. The donation made to the JFA shows that football should have a sense of social responsibility and that backing for social and humanitarian causes remains a high priority on UEFA's agenda.
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