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UEFA has continued its long-standing support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by again setting aside €100,000 for a player from the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year poll to present to the ICRC.
This year's cheque was presented by Philipp Lahm, who received the most votes of any player, and was one of four members of the FC Bayern München squad to make the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2013.
UEFA Executive Committee member Peter Gilliéron handed over the cheque to the German international before the start of Tuesday's UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg against Arsenal FC at the Fußball Arena München.
For the seventh time, this money has passed from the hands of a UEFA.com users' Team of the Year player to one of UEFA's long-term partners, the ICRC. The donation traditionally supports the Red Cross's physical rehabilitation programme for landmine victims and other persons with disabilities in Afghanistan.
"Through difficult times, the Afghans have worked hard to preserve their passion for football, and were rewarded last year by winning their first South Asian Football Federation title," said Gilliéron. "We sincerely thank Philipp Lahm for generously donating the UEFA.com user's Team of the Year award to the ICRC to help landmine victims recover and walk again."
UEFA began its partnership with the ICRC, including the backing of the ICRC anti-landmine campaign, in 1997. All money donated goes to the Score for the Red Cross initiative in aid of the ICRC rehabilitation project for landmine victims in Afghanistan – providing artificial limbs, physiotherapy and vocational training. About one third of patients assisted through the physical rehabilitation programme are children.
Before donating his UEFA award money to Charlotte Lindsey-Curtet, the ICRC's director of communication and information management, Lahm said: "This is certainly a great charity programme. I think all of us who can play professional football at such clubs should think about the people who don't have such a nice life. Therefore it is definitely good to support charities like this."
Players who have donated their award money to the ICRC in recent years are Cristiano Ronaldo (Team of the Year 2012), Xavi Hernández (2011 and 2008), Carles Puyol (2010) and Lionel Messi (2009).
The ICRC says that physical rehabilitation is a way of restoring people's dignity, enabling them to regain mobility and play an active role in society. The body has been involved in limb-fitting, rehabilitation and the social reintegration of disabled people in Afghanistan since 1988. People with disabilities, the ICRC says, need mobility devices such as prostheses, orthoses, walking aids and wheelchairs, as well as therapy to learn to make the fullest use of these devices.
The ICRC emphasises the social inclusion aspect – in addition to rehabilitation, disabled people require a role to recover self-respect, and the chance of education and to learn a skill. The body is grateful for UEFA's long-standing backing. "The ICRC greatly appreciates the commitment and support it has received from UEFA and its stars like Philipp Lahm for seven consecutive years now," said Lindsey-Curtet.
"Traditionally this contribution goes to physical rehabilitation activities in Afghanistan, which not only respond to the physical needs of people with disabilities, but promote equal opportunities for them, including in sports, and enable them to live in dignity."
A record 6.3 million votes were cast in selecting the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2013.
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