28 May 2011

Ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester United and FC Barcelona on Saturday, the managers of both clubs have underlined their commitment to helping children the world over through their work with UNICEF.

In a joint statement, Sir Alex Ferguson and Josep Guardiola said:

"On the pitch we will compete fiercely to win this competition. But off the pitch we each stand united in a common cause: our responsibility to help the most disadvantaged and hardest-to-reach children, through our partnerships with UNICEF.  

Children face huge challenges on a daily basis just to survive, to grow and to get an education. Every five seconds a child dies due to disease or lack of food. During the 90 minutes it will take to play Saturday’s final, an estimated 1,350 children will die, many of them from preventable diseases. Those children that do make it to school age often drop out, and poverty is often the cause. This is wrong, and both clubs are supporting UNICEF’s work to put this right.

Manchester United has supported UNICEF since 1999. Together we are working to ensure children survive and thrive by funding health centres in the poorest parts of Africa. For the last five years, FC Barcelona has supported UNICEF by funding HIV and AIDS programmes in Africa to prevent infection and protect those children and families affected. Together Manchester United and Barcelona are helping to improve the lives of 2.6 million children. 

Of the 100 million people watching on Saturday, many will be children. Aside from these children having 90 minutes' respite from their daily difficulties, many will have been touched by the work of UNICEF that we support. This is the power of football: its ability to reach people across cultures and its capacity to bring hope."

UNICEF Ambassador Sir Alex Ferguson © Macro Di Laro for UNICEF/Reportage by Getty Images
UNICEF Ambassador Sir Alex Ferguson© Macro Di Laro for UNICEF/Reportage by Getty Images