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UEFA presented a cheque for €100,000 to FC Barcelona and Spain defender Carles Puyol, who amassed more than 230,000 votes to be named captain of the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2010. Puyol immediately took the step of donating the cheque to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Patrick Gasser, UEFA's senior football and social responsibility manager, handed over the cheque to the Barcelona centre-back and skipper before the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg between the Spanish club and Arsenal FC at the Camp Nou – a game Puyol missed through injury.
"I'm very pleased and honoured to present, on behalf of UEFA, a cheque for €100,000 to the captain of the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2010 – FC Barcelona's Carles Puyol," said Mr Gasser. "
For the fourth time, the Team of the Year award will help mine victims learn how to walk and play again."
For the fourth time, this money will be going from the hands of the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year captain to one of UEFA's long-standing partners, the Red Cross. The donation will aid the ICRC's physical rehabilitation programme for land-mine victims in Afghanistan.
Ahead of donating his UEFA award money to the Red Cross, Puyol, 32, said: "I am greatly honoured to be voted the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2010 captain.
I realise how privileged I am not just to play football but simply to have my health and two good legs. I am happy to make this contribution to do something to help people less fortunate than me and hope it can go some way to improving their quality of life."
UEFA began its partnership with the Red Cross in 1997, with a particular emphasis on the ICRC anti land-mine campaign. All monies donated go to the Score for the Red Cross campaign in support of the ICRC rehabilitation project for land-mine victims in Afghanistan – providing victims with artificial limbs, physiotherapy and vocational training.
Helen Alderson, head of financial resources and logistics at the ICRC, said: "We are very grateful for this generous donation, which will help us maintain and develop the services we provide for mine victims and other disabled people in Afghanistan. Carles Puyol is not only helping us financially but also giving us his moral support, which is important because he has many fans in Afghanistan."
The ICRC's limb-fitting and rehabilitation programme has helped over 90,000 mine victims and other disabled people since it was established in 1988.
The UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2010 was: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF); Maicon (FC Internazionale Milano), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona), Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), Ashley Cole (Chelsea FC); Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona), Wesley Sneijder (FC Internazionale Milano), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona); Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), David Villa (FC Barcelona). Coach: José Mourinho (Real Madrid CF).
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