UEFA will present tomorrow a cheque for €100,000 to Xavi Hernández who amassed almost 100,000 individual votes to be named the captain of the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2011. Xavi will donate the cheque to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Peter Gilliéron, member of the UEFA Executive Committee, will hand over the cheque to the FC Barcelona midfield player before the start of tomorrow's UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Camp Nou. For the fifth time, this money will be going from the hands of the Team of the Year captain to one of UEFA's long-standing partners, the ICRC. The donation will support the Red Cross's physical rehabilitation programme for land-mine victims in Afghanistan.
UEFA began its partnership with the ICRC in 1997, backing the ICRC anti land-mine campaign. All monies donated go to the Score for the Red Cross initiative in support of the ICRC rehabilitation project for land-mine victims in Afghanistan – providing victims with artificial limbs, physiotherapy and vocational training. The ICRC's limb-fitting and rehabilitation scheme has helped more than 95,000 mine victims and other disabled people since it was established in 1988.
Before donating the UEFA award money to the ICRC, Spanish international Xavi said: "It's an honour to be part of the team and also to be captain. It's an honour to represent European and world football, and in this case we are helping people who are more vulnerable and who need it – so I am proud in that sense. It is very important to help. We are privileged people in society. We have it good, through living our passion. It's a profession of course but it's also a hobby and a passion. So to be able to help people who need it, it's a beautiful cause and I feel very proud."
The 32-year-old also received some 262,027 individual votes to win a central midfield place in the UEFA.com users' select XI.
Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations at the ICRC, said: "This is an important and much appreciated gesture. It will directly benefit mine victims and other disabled people we assist in Afghanistan. Every day these activities change people's lives. Needs, however, remain very high across Afghanistan and this support will help us in increasing and improving our physical rehabilitation activities."
Over 4.5 million votes were cast in deciding the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2011, which was announced in January:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF & Spain); Daniel Alves (FC Barcelona), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona & Spain), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Marcelo (Real Madrid CF); Arjen Robben (FC Bayern München & Netherlands), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona & Spain), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona & Spain), Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur FC & Wales); Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF & Portugal). Josep Guardiola (FC Barcelona).
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