World

Professional football against hunger

The power of football, a key tool for advocacy

14 April 2008, Lisbon/Rome - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Association of the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) today signed in Lisbon (Portugal) a cooperation agreement to promote a series of initiatives aimed at sensitizing the public on issues related to food security and the fight against hunger.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General, Sir David Richards, EPFL's President and Chairman of the Premier League.

Laurentino Dias, Portugal's Youth and Sport Secretary, Hermino Loureiro, Portugese League President, Paolo Sousa, former player for Juventus, Inter and Portugal's national team and several football stars and officials present at the ceremony, expressed full support for the initiative.

The two Organisations believe that the power of football is a key tool in development and in advocating for the fight against hunger and towards the achievement of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDGs): to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and poverty in the world by 2015.

Under the terms of the agreement, the EPFL, an association constituted by 27 members and associated members Leagues, comprising more than 900 football clubs across Europe, will promote, together with FAO, a series of initiatives related to the fight against hunger.

World Food Day and TeleFood

Top football players already helping FAO in its fight against hunger include former star of Juventus and Inter, Italy's Roberto Baggio and Spain's Ra=FAl Gonzalez, Captain of Real Madrid. Both are FAO Goodwill Ambassadors for FAO.

Last month, under a similar agreement signed between FAO and the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the latter will support solidarity campaigns mounted by FAO, including a number of initiatives such as national or regional Food Security Programmes, TeleFood projects and cultural and sporting events held to promote development of agriculture, nutrition and the environment.

These initiatives, in the framework of World Food Day and TeleFood activities, will draw attention to the plight of more than 850 million people suffering from hunger in the world and will raise funds to support FAO micro-projects designed to help families and poor communities to produce their own food.

An example, among the more than 2500 small scale existing projects in 130 countries, are school gardens where students learn how to grow their own crops and breed livestock, and also benefit from meals at school, prepared with the food they produce.

With this strategy, the two organisations hope that football will become a tool for advocacy with the ultimate goal of improving living conditions for the world's poorest people and a means to mobilize resources in the fight against global hunger.

Contact:

Pierre Antonios
Media Relations, FAO
pierre.antonios@fao.org
(+39) 06 5705 3473
(+39) 348 2523 807