Superstars of European football past and present are looking forward to helping people in the Horn of Africa when they play in the ninth UEFA-backed Match Against Poverty in Hamburg on Tuesday – and are united in urging fans to come and share what is sure to be a memorable occasion.
Brazilian ace Ronaldo and French legend Zinédine Zidane are Goodwill Ambassadors for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and are putting together a team of famous players for a friendly at the Hamburg Arena against an all-star side from Hamburger SV (kick-off 19.05CET). These top names include Fabio Cannavaro, Luís Figo, Pavel Nedvěd and Didier Drogba, while the likes of Jörg Albertz, Sergej Barbarez and Richard Golz will turn out for the Bundesliga club. Most of the proceeds will go towards addressing the ongoing food crisis in the Horn of Africa.
The annual Match Against Poverty seeks to mobilise the public to fight against poverty and promote action on the UN's Millennium Development Goals – eight internationally agreed goals designed to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2015. Ronaldo and Zidane have been the driving force behind the Match Against Poverty since its inception in 2003.
"The Match Against Poverty is much more than a game," said Zidane. "It is part of the global fight against poverty. I am, with my friend Ronaldo, always impressed by the support of the public – it is just great to play on the pitch with thousands of spectators coming to a charity match to support the players and the cause. I hope Hamburg responds – we have to send a strong message of support to the people in need."
"I am looking forward to playing this year in the Match Against Poverty," added Ronaldo. "I have retired from professional football but I will give my best in this very special edition taking place in Hamburg. I am thrilled to play with so many stars and I am inspired by the fact we are making a contribution to people in the Horn of Africa."
This year, organisers and players have joined the global effort to address the crisis in the Horn of Africa, where more than 13 million people have been left in need by famine, drought, conflict and high food prices. Two thirds of the match proceeds will go towards the UN's attempt to tackle the ongoing food crisis, while HSV will donate the remaining funds towards diverse community development projects focused on sports, youth, education and protection of the environment, and corporate social responsibility among its sponsors and partners.
"I am a great supporter of the Match Against Poverty and whenever I can, I participate," said Luís Figo. "This year the match takes place in the beautiful Hamburg Arena. We will all be very honoured to be together with the people of Hamburg – and as a Portuguese I also hope the Portuguese community in Hamburg joins us in the relief efforts for the Horn of Africa."
The football notables involved in Hamburg have expressed their pride in being invited to play. "We all know there is a crisis in Europe but for others in the world it is even worse," said Fabio Cannavaro. "We need to support the Horn of Africa – maybe it is when we face a crisis that we understand better that help is needed. As an Italian footballer I am proud of participating in the Match Against Poverty and to unite with the people in Hamburg for this important cause."
For Didier Drogba, the occasion is a first. "It is the first time I play in the Match Against Poverty and I am honoured. I am really looking forward to it – and be sure that for Africa in Hamburg I will give my best.
South African Lucas Radebe also feels a particular affinity for the match. "South Africa is present in supporting our neighbours in Africa," he explained. "I am happy to do it within the football world. I love this match, the atmosphere between the players is just great and we know that it is always for a good cause. Friendship between the players and friendship for the people in need, in communion with thousands of spectators – this is what really matters."
Tickets range from €8 to €20 and are available on hsv.de/ticket.
To donate to the Horn of Africa crisis, visit undp.org/hornofafrica.
Ronaldo, Zidane, Drogba & Friends squad
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Ronaldo (Brazil), Dida (Brazil), Paulo André (Brazil), Serginho (Brazil), Jens Lehmann (Germany), Lucas Radebe (South Africa), Fernando Hierro (Spain), Michel Salgado (Spain), Gheorghe Popescu (Romania), Gheorghe Hagi (Romania), Luís Figo (Portugal), Maniche (Portugal), Fernando Couto (Portugal), Zinédine Zidane (France), Christian Karembeu (France), Claude Makelele (France), Robert Pirès (France), Steve McManaman (England), Pavel Nedvěd (Czech Republic), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Rabah Madjer (Algeria), Sami Al-Jaber (Saudi Arabia), Dwight Yorke (Trinidad & Tobago)
Coaches: Marcello Lippi (Italy) and Bora Milutinović (Serbia)
HSV All-Stars team
Zé Roberto, Jörg Albertz, Stefan Beinlich, Stefan Schnoor, Sergej Barbarez, Collin Benjamin, Rodolfo Cardoso, Nico-Jan Hoogma, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Anthony Yeboah, and more to be confirmed
Coach: Thorsten Fink (Germany)
Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy)
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