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UEFA EURO 2004™ supports ICRC's "Children in war" campaign

27-11-2003 News Release 03/75

World-renowned referee Pierluigi Collina to serve as campaign ambassador

Geneva (ICRC) - The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have formed a unique partnership to highlight the plight of children in war as part of the build-up to UEFA EURO 2004™.

" UEFA has offered the ICRC a good opportunity to convey to a cumulative audience of approximately seven billion viewers the need to protect children in war. This marks a new way for us to describe our work to help the victims of war, " said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger. " Football and the ICRC may not seem like natural partners, but both, in very different ways, can bring hope and new motivation to young people who have seen their communities destroyed by armed conflict, " he continued.

Under the theme " Protect children in war, " the joint ICRC-UEFA endeavour is designed to raise awareness of the needs of children suffering the effects of war. Top international referee Pierluigi Collina will serve as the campaign's ambassador. In this role, Collina will visit an ICRC field operation where he will see rehabilitation and family-reunification work under way. He will also referee a match for children.

" As a referee, my role is to ensure that players respect the rules of the game. The ICRC works to ensure that those fighting a war respect the law of armed conflict - this is an interesting partnership, " said Collina. " I hope that my involvement in the campaign will help create awareness among football supporters and the general public of the special problems children face in these terrible circumstances. "

The par tnership will run through to the end of the final tournament in Lisbon next summer. At events between now and then, the focus will be on four ICRC activities pertaining to children in war: reuniting children with their families, assisting them in their physical and psychological recovery, meeting their basic needs, and campaigning against the use of child soldiers.

" Supporting the ICRC's efforts to help children who are victims of war is a reflection of UEFA's values, " said UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner. " Sport, and in particular football, has proved highly effective in the rehabilitation, both physical and mental, of children who have been damaged by war, " he said. " The concepts of fair play, solidarity and team spirit can help to give them a new basis on which to build their shattered lives. "

At ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Mr Aigner presented the organization with a cheque for one million Swiss francs for the seventh year running.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 20 63, ++41 79 217 32 16, or ++41 79 203 43 38