Referees’ seminar marks official launch of UEFA EURO 2004™/ ICRC joint campaign
29-04-2004 News Release 04/31
Pierluigi Collina, Anders Frisk, Markus Merk and Lubos Michel launch campaign to ‘Protect Children in War’ at pre-tournament seminar near Porto
UEFA and the International Committee of the Red Cross today officially launched their joint campaign for EURO 2004™ to Protect Children in War. The launch came at the end of a four-day seminar involving the twelve referees, twenty-four assistant referees and four 4th officials appointed for the final tournament of the UEFA European Football Championship. The Hotel Solverde in São Felix da Marinha, near Porto, was the venue for the event and the same hotel will be the match officials’ headquarters in the summer.
For the first time the final tournament of a European Football Championship is being dedicated to one of the ICRC’s campaigns. Four of the referees – Pierluigi Collina, Anders Frisk, Markus Merk and Lubos Michel – are acting as Ambassadors for the joint venture. In March this year, the latter three travelled to Sierra Leone on a field mission to see for themselves the importance of the work being done by the ICRC to reunite war-torn families and rehabilitate children who were caught up in the war. Today, they related their experiences and explained what the ‘Protect Children in War’ campaign is all about.
UEFA’s Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson and Yves Daccord, ICRC Director of Communication were also present at the launch in Porto at which video footage from the trip to Sierra Leone was shown to the media, match officials and guests.
Lars-Christer Olsson said “When UEFA decided to link the EURO 2004™ to an initiative of the International Committee of the Red Cross – the “Protect Children in War” campaign, it was a groundbreaking initiative. It is the first time a promotional platform is being offered to a humanitarian cause at our flagship event. The European Championship is UEFA’s most prestigious tournament. 31 matches will be played in ten stadiums in front of 1.2 million ticket holders. The games will also be broadcast worldwide by 200 TV stations to reach an expected seven billion spectators. UEFA’s partnership with the ICRC will mean that the messages of the campaign will reach people all over the world and I extend my thanks to the referees and officials for lending their support to give the cause such visibility.”
Speaking on behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Yves Daccord said “When people think of war, they don't automatically think of children. But children are especially vulnerable in times of war and suffer deeply. They need special attention. Football and the ICRC can, in different ways, bring hope and inspiration to young people who have seen their communities destroyed by armed conflict.”
Markus Merk added “It was a pleasure to travel to Sierra Leone as ambassador and I am honoured to able to play a key role in promoting this campaign. Football in Sierra Leone seems to be a number one sport. During our visit we saw many small football matches going on everywhere we travelled. If we, as ambassadors, can make a difference in Africa as well as across Europe and the rest of the world during EURO 2004™ then it is a most valuable exercise and one which I am sure will have a lasting effect in the future.”
Thursday 24 June, the first Quarter-Final of EURO 2004™, will be dedicated to Protect Children in War. Throughout the tournament and particularly on the dedicated day, there will be special events and widespread distribution of merchandise relating to the Protect Children in War theme, coordinated by the Portuguse Red Cross. As part of the UEFA referees’ commitment to the Campaign, all match officials will wear the campaign logo as a sleeve badge for all final tournament matches in Portugal.
Note to Editors: UEFA’s partnership with the ICRC began in 1997 with the support for the ICRC campaign against landmines. Since then, UEFA has provided the ICRC with media support, promoting Red Cross campaigns on uefa.com and through UEFA publications such as uefadirect and Club competitions final magazines. By making yearly donations, UEFA has reinvested fines imposed on players, clubs and associations in our competitions, towards a broad range of ICRC field operations, focusing primarily on humanitarian programmes in Europe.
Over and above its regular charity contributions, generated by sanctions imposed by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body, UEFA gives a charity donation of MCHF 1 each year at the Monaco Gala, when the European football family celebrates the end of a football season and launches a new one. The ICRC has twice received this donation. Other organisations such as Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) have also benefited in recent years.Read more on the UEFA/ICRC joint campaign. For further information visit www.euro2004.com
For further information, please contact:
Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel.: ++41 22 730 2063 or ++41 79 217 3216
UEFA Media Services, tel.: ++41-22 99 44 559