The FC Barcelona Foundation and UNICEF have demonstrated to the world their commitment to children with disabilities in a high level meeting held on Wednesday at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. The event was headed by Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the executive director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, with Ronaldinho also in attendance. Both organisations reviewed their joint effort and outlined the future challenges that are involved in this task.
The event was the ideal way to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the signing of the agreement between the FC Barcelona Foundation and UNICEF, which began on 7 September 2006, exactly a decade ago today, in the same iconic space, plus the renovation of the alliance on 25 February at Camp Nou. Furthermore, it also fits in with a current major sporting event, as Wednesday sees the inauguration of the Paralympic Games. Ronaldinho, as it happens, participated in the official song of the Games.
Sport as a tool for social inclusion
The event, framed under the slogan 'For each child, the right to play' brought together leaders and influential personalities in the social sector to help shed light on the importance of using sport as a tool for social inclusion with children who have a disability.
The club’s large contingent at this event, which took place at the Delegates Dining Room of the fourth floor of the United Nations headquarters with some fifty guests, was led by FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, accompanied by first vice-president in the social area and that of the Foundation, Jordi Cardoner, sporting vice-president, Jordi Mestre, and former player Ronaldinho, representing the Club from a footballing standpoint in the Club’s institutional visit to New York. UNICEF’s highest representative was in attendance - its executive director, Anthony Lake, who proudly displayed his affection for Barça by donning a tie with the club’s colours, while representatives of UNICEF Spain also attended.
During his speech, Bartomeu spoke of the supportive position of the FC Barcelona Foundation, based on the social commitment of the Club, and highlighted the fact that 652 million children around the world are at risk of social exclusion, a figure that the Foundation is committed to helping reduce.
One of the projects that was discussed was the ‘Open doors to inclusion’ project, a joint initiative launched in Brazil by the Rodrigo Mendes Institute and UNICEF with the support and funding of the FC Barcelona Foundation, which serves to empower teachers in the use of inclusive sport for children with disabilities. This programme, which has been implemented in 12 Brazilian cities, has seen the involvement of more than 250 education professionals and has benefited more than 22,500 children.
Ten years of partnership in favour of children
This year, the FC Barcelona Foundation and UNICEF have reached the tenth anniversary of their alliance which, during the last decade, has benefited one million children around the world. The agreement was renewed in February 2020 with the commitment to increase the economic contribution of the Foundation to UNICEF from 1.5 million euros to 2 million euros per year.
From 2006 to 2010, work was carried out in Swaziland, Malawi and Angola in raising awareness about, and preventing and detecting HIV/AIDS. From 2011 to present, work focuses on South Africa, Ghana, Brazil and China, where sport is being used as an educational tool.
UNICEF is the United Nations agency for children, and is the organisation's most prestigious and iconic in this area worldwide. FC Barcelona wants to show its utmost respect and gratitude with this new agreement; an alliance that also strengthens Barça’s position as the club of the children in the world.
Quotes from Josep Maria Bartomeu
“Today is a very important day for the Foundation and for Barça because for us the headquarters of the United Nations is a symbol of peace and harmony.”
“We are in New York we want to be close to our people, our fans and obviously UNICEF. That leads us to work even more intensely on our projects.”
“Ronaldinho accompanies us in this event and he also shares our social commitment. He is part of our heritage and he returned the smile to the Club’s face in 2003.”
“Today marks 10 years since the signing of our first agreement with UNICEF. We are very proud of what we have done and for that reason we renewed our collaboration last February with the idea of continuing to use football to fight to help vulnerable children.”
Quotes from Anthony Lake
“I have seen children recovering from cholera wearing Barça shirts in Syria, in a difficult situation. I have learned that Barça brings people together. Even though people disagree about sport, it basically brings people together.”
“There is no better example of an organization with a global reach than Barça and I am very happy to celebrate the 10th anniversary and the recent renewal of this agreement.”
“Therefore, we have to celebrate the past and the future of our alliance, which has reached more than a million children around the world, and that from now on will back up the work with disabled children we are doing as in the case of our joint project in Brazil.”
“I am very happy to have the UNICEF logo on the back of the Barça shirt because you can see it when they score and the goal celebration is also a celebration of UNICEF.”
“Today we see the Empire State in blaugrana, how it should be every day.”
Quotes from Ronaldinho
“I am more than happy to be here. I am here available to help in any way that the FC Barcelona Foundation and UNICEF need.”