AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong has affirmed that the exceptional power of Asian football is being mobilised to eradicate food insecurity throughout Asia.
Speaking in his welcoming remarks during the handover of over US$400 000 in contribution to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at AFC House here on Friday, Zhang said:
"Today is a special day for AFC as we take another giant step towards fulfilling our social obligations.
"AFC signed a historic agreement last year with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and decided to use football in the global fight against hunger.
"The exceptional power of Asian football is now mobilising the willingness, the decisions, and the resources to eradicate food insecurity throughout Asia."
Zhang handed over a mock cheque to FAO Assistant Director General for Asia and the Pacific Hiroyuki Konuma on the sidelines of the AFC Executive Committee Meeting.
FIFA Vice-President HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, AFC Vice Presidents and AFC Social Responsibility Committee Chairman Dr. Kwak Chung Hwan were also present during the handover ceremony.
AFC joined hands with FAO in May 2010 with the purposeful intention of using football and football-related activities to help combat global hunger, which has reached the one billon threshold.
The partnership is part of the overall Dream Asia Social Responsibility programme of AFC, which is keen to fulfil its obligation of helping less-privileged communities in Asia.
Zhang has said that AFC is aware that food is a fundamental human right and the football governing body is determined to help FAO in putting food on the table for the under-privileged.
"And, true to our partnership, the opening match of our flagship competition AFC Asian Cup in Qatar in January 2011 was dedicated to raising awareness about FAO’s noble campaign.
"I would like to assure the FAO Assistant Director General Mr Konuma that AFC will deploy all its popular platforms to promote your message.
"The fight against hunger needs money. And today I am happy to inform you that we will be further enhancing our ties with FAO by making a modest donation to their coffers. This is a clear indication of our resolve to help FAO in more ways than one.
"AFC and FAO are united by the shared desire that there should be no more hungry mouths to feed in our continent. This is our combined struggle for food justice, a fight in which we are determined to unleash our humanity," said Zhang.
In his appreciation remarks, Konuma has said that the problem of hunger which keeps rising is the most dramatic manifestation of poverty, disparity and food price volatility.
He said: "Almost 1 billion people live in chronic hunger today. Let me begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to AFC for supporting the mission of FAO through the Asian Football against Hunger initiative, undertaken during the 2011 Asian Football Cup, last January in Doha.
"The funds will be used exclusively to implement small projects in order to give concrete solutions to the poorest communities in Asia and give rural dwellers opportunities to learn and produce food and have a better life.
Konuma has also recounted the history of football’s involvement, including in Asia, with FAO in the fight against hunger.
"In 2008, FAO initiated a partnership campaign to reach out to various regional football associations as part of its Professional Football against Hunger campaign. To date, it has established partnerships with the regional football association in Africa with CAF, in Europe with the EPFL, in Latin America with CONMEBOL, and in Asia through the AFC.
"The Asian Football against Hunger campaign achieved wide public and media attention as witnessed by a media dossier of over 300 pages containing press and internet news in Arabic, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian languages.
Going forward, Konuma has reported that the AFC and FAO held a Working Group meeting at the AFC house on Thursday to review the first year of cooperation and to plan for the future.
"We agreed on a framework for the future, working together at both strategic and operational levels through a wide range of activities such as AFC’s Under-19 Women’s Championship to be held in Vietnam in October 2011, and for 2012 we foresee to work hand-in-hand during the AFC Champion Leagues’ campaign," he said.