Friday 30 March 2012
The Premier League is joining 19 other Leagues across Europe this weekend in showing their support for a programme to help avert a humanitarian disaster in the Sahel region of West Africa.
The third Match Day Against Hunger is taking place across the continent between 30th March and 2nd April to raise awareness of the critical situation in the region, where over 11 million people are at risk of hunger because of drought, poor harvest and rising food prices.
The event will bring together 20 European football leagues in 16 different countries in matches played by more than 300 professional football clubs.
"The right to food is a basic human right and no one in today’s world should go hungry"
- Patrick Vieira
The matches will be dedicated to the fight against hunger in the Sahel with campaign videos and announcements at stadiums.
There will also be campaign flags and banners as well as social media activities.
The Premier League clubs will also donate free advertising space at their grounds and in match-day programmes.
"We have a responsibility to those who are in distress through no fault of their own," said former Arsenal and Manchester City midfielder Patrick Vieira, who is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
"The right to food is a basic human right and no one in today’s world should go hungry."
The Sahel region, which includes Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, is home to 58 million people.
The aim of the campaign is to avoid a repeat of the hunger crisis that has been raging in the Horn of Africa.
The European Match Day Against Hunger is the highlight of a joint awareness campaign, called Professional Football Against Hunger.
The campaign, which has been running since 2008, is a partnership between the Association for European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and the FAO.
This year, the three organisations are coming together to highlight the problems in the Sahel.
"Football is the great global unifier," said EPFL and English Premier League Chairman Sir David Richards.
"The Leagues and the players know the power and popularity of our sport and we are proud to use that power to tell stories that otherwise would not be told.
"European Professional Football is providing the megaphone for this message so that the right help can get to the people in need as soon as possible."
The campaign was this week presented to the football world at the Soccerex event in Manchester.
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of ECHO, the European Commission's humanitarian aid department.