A host of football greats as well as former leading referee Pierluigi Collina have confirmed their participation in the 11th UEFA-backed Match Against Poverty at the Stade de Suisse in Berne, Switzerland, on 4 March.
Deco, Pavel Nedvěd, Roberto Carlos and Fernando Hierro are among those who will line up alongside United Nations Development Project (UNDP) ambassadors Ronaldo, Zinédine Zidane and Collina, who has officiated at nine of the ten previous Matches Against Poverty. Two-thirds of the funds raised by the game will go to helping millions of people displaced or otherwise affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on 8 November last year.
The remainder of the proceeds will be donated by host club BSC Young Boys to Laureus Foundation Switzerland, part of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a charity that gives practical and financial assistance to almost 150 national level sport-based projects in 34 countries worldwide.
This year's Match against Poverty will see Ronaldo and Zidane – who have traditionally assembled teams to play against each other – join forces in the same side. The legendary duo's squad of past and present footballers will take on BSC Young Boys and Friends, a mix of current and former players from the Berne club, who are based at the Stade de Suisse.
The preliminary list of players who have guaranteed their presence in Ronaldo and Zidane's team is an impressive one: Ronald de Boer (Netherlands), Steve McManaman (England), Robert Pirès, Claude Makélélé and Youri Djorkaeff (France), Jens Lehmann (Germany), Gaizka Mendieta, Hierro and Míchel Salgado (Spain), Paulo Sousa and Deco (Portugal), Roberto Carlos (Brazil) and Nedvěd (Czech Republic). More big names are expected to confirm their involvement in the coming days.
The Young Boys and Friends squad will comprise players who have served the Swiss Super League outfit with distinction, including ex-Swiss international Stéphane Chapuisat, whose superb career included a prolific stint with Young Boys between 2002 and 2005.
It always inspires me when a game is more than a game," said Collina. "The 11th Match Against Poverty will not only see players scoring goals for their own team, but also for the people of the Philippines. It is an honour for me to referee this match."
Ronaldo, Zidane and the UNDP have been the key figures behind the Match Against Poverty since the opening game in 2003. Ten successful editions of the fixture have been staged in Basel, Madrid, Dusseldorf, Marseille, Malaga, Fez, Lisbon, Athens, Hamburg and Porto Alegre. Each year, the funds raised support specific projects in different countries dealing with difficult challenges.
The match at the Stade de Suisse, which will be televised to a global audience, will kick off at 20.00CET. Tickets, priced from CHF 20 up to CHF 60, are available at www.stadedesuisse.ch/tickets or www.ticketcorner.ch.
More details can also be found at undp.org/povertymatch | @undp | #PovertyMatch
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