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UEFA/ICRC joint initiative to protect children in war


Football referees and the ICRC share a common objective - they seek to ensure respect for the rules, be it on a football field or in times of hostilities and crisis.



The ICRC/UEFA partnership is taking a major step forward by associating children in war with

  EURO 2004TM . This is UEFA's most prestigious football competition, involving the 16 national teams who make it through the qualifying rounds. A cumulative audience of 7 billion people will watch the 31 matches, which will span the 22 days from 12 June to 4 July 2004.
This is a unique opportunity for the ICRC to highlight the need to protect children living in conflict areas. The focus during UEFA EURO 2004 will be on four ICRC activities related 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.
 Ambassadors show strong commitment  
(From left) Anders Frisk, Pierluigi Collina, Markus Merk and Lubos Michel, ambassadors of the campaign to protect children in war.©UEFA 
(see video).
"Children are our future",
Collina said.
"Let's make sure that
we protect them so that they can lead healthy and peaceful lives.
Play by the rules,
let the children play". 
Sierra LeoneNational societies on board
Where you want Float to stop or at least AT END OF DOC -->
(From left) Anders Frisk, Pierluigi Collina, Markus Merk and Lubos Michel, ambassadors of the campaign to protect children in war.©UEFA 
There is a strong link between the referees'role of ensuring that players respect the rules of the game and the ICRC's role of ensuring that those fighting respect the rules of war. It was only natural that referees embrace the initiative with four leading referees serving as Children in War ambassadors - Pierluigi Collina (Italy), Anders Frisk (Sweden), Markus Merk (Germany), and Lubos Michel (Slovakia) They will help raise awareness of these important issues in the run up to the EURO2004, providing a powerful international channel for this vital humanitarian message, right through the competition.  
A key element of the programme was a visit to Sierra Leone in March 2004 where three ambassadors - Frisk, Merk, and Michel witnessed first-hand programmes designed to help c hildren who have suffered the effects of war. In addition, the referees officiated a match between children from two refugee camps. The trip was a great success - read more on .


The UEFA/ICRC campaign to protect children in war is gaining momentum across Europe. National Red Cross societies whose countries have qualified are joining the campaign. These include Britain, Denmark, Switzerland and, of course, Portugal. Initially, solidarity centred on a football event. Now solidarity is taking on a new dimension as other members of the Red Cross'family'(like the national societies of Iceland and Austria) rally to the cause, even though their countries did not qualify for EURO 2004.



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