13 January 2009, Cairo/Rome – A high-level delegation of European football officials and former star players representing the Professional Football Against Hunger awareness and fundraising campaign will visit FAO TeleFood projects in Cairo, Egypt on 14 January. A press conference will be organized on the same day at the Egyptian National Sports Council.
The visit is the group’s first concrete initiative since the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) launched its anti-hunger fundraising campaign at FAO headquarters in October 2008.
The event will take place under the patronage of Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, who was nominated in October 2008 as Raeia – Illustrious Guide – of FAO’s activities and TeleFood Programmes.
Officials and eminent football players from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal will tour projects designed to improve the nutrition and livelihoods of vulnerable women and children, and to train youngsters in pesticide-free crop production techniques.
The high-level delegation includes former star players Paolo Rossi (Italy – Ambassador, Lega Calcio), 1982 World Champion; Hans-Peter Müller (Germany – Ambassador, Bundesliga), and Manuel José (Portugal – Ambassador, Portuguese League), current coach of the Egyptian football club Al-Ahly and four-time champion of the African Champions League.
The football officials leading the delegation include EPFL Chief Executive Officer Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros; Spanish League President and EPFL Board member José Luís Astiazarán, and Thomas Bender, Chief Marketing Officer of the German Football League.
“One sixth of the world’s population is suffering from severe hunger or dramatically struggling to put food on the table. The need for action – not the usual nice words of circumstance, but real action – has never been so urgent and so needed,” Medeiros said.
“That’s why we have joined FAO at the forefront of this fight. A fight for every individual’s right to food and human dignity,” Medeiros added.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf lauded EPFL for putting its muscle behind the campaign at a time when the number of hungry people worldwide has soared to 963 million amid global financial worries.
“FAO appreciates the power of sport, and football in particular, to spread awareness and mobilize political will and financial resources in the fight against hunger, a fight that is more urgent than ever,” Diouf said.
The formation of Professional Football Against Hunger marked an important milestone in the involvement of professional football in the global fight for a world free from hunger. It includes the 28 Member Leagues and Associate Members of EPFL, representing more than 960 professional football clubs across Europe.