The joint campaign by UEFA and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to highlight the plight of children in war, which is being promoted at UEFA EURO 2004™, will be the centre of attention off the field on Thursday.
The centre-circle flag at the first quarter-final match between Portugal and England at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon will feature the campaign logo 'Let us play'. The Portuguese Red Cross will distribute 'Play by the Rules' T-shirts, baseball caps and flyers. Over 2,000 children will release balloons with the logo in Lisbon, and the 65,000 ticket-holders for the match will receive campaign pins.
Reflecting UEFA values
It is the first time that UEFA has used a tournament to promote a humanitarian cause. In the view of UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson, supporting the ICRC's efforts to help children who are victims of war is a reflection of UEFA's own values. Sport, and in particular football, has proved highly effective, in the words of ICRC communication director Yves Daccord, in the rehabilitation of children who have been damaged by war.
The joint UEFA/ICRC campaign has four simple messages. First, children who are separated from their families must be protected and everything possible should be done to reunite them. Second, they need care to help their physical and psychological recovery. Third, they are entitled to have their basic needs met through the provision of shelter, food, water, clothing, medical care and education. And fourth, they must not be recruited into armed forces or groups, nor allowed to take a direct part in hostilities.
"In today's wars, civilians are increasingly caught up in fighting, and children are especially at risk," says Mr Daccord. "They are often separated from their families and need special protection. By dedicating EURO 2004™ to these issues, UEFA has given us a great opportunity to highlight the plight of children in war. Football and the ICRC may not seem natural partners, but in different ways, they bring hope to young people."
The EURO 2004™ referees are lending their weight to the campaign. They are wearing the campaign logo on their sleeves, and four video spots are being broadcast on giant screens at each match. Four leading referees - Pierluigi Collina, Anders Frisk, Markus Merk, and Luboš Michel - are acting as ambassadors during the campaign. Frisk, Merk and Michel travelled to Sierra Leone in the spring to gain experience of the ICRC's activities in caring for children and reuniting families.
The special 'Let us Play' logo, drawn from a child's perspective, was created to communicate the desire of children to be able to experience the fun and joy of football rather than suffer the consequences of war.
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