World champion footballers and United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane have announced that the 8th Annual Match Against Poverty will raise funds for the nearly 25 million people affected by the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods.
The two men, who use their celebrity status to promote the anti-poverty work of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will mobilize their all-star team to challenge Greek-side Olympiacos in a friendly on 15 December, UN News Centre said.
The match, which will be played at Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, Greece, is part of a global campaign to achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that targets slashing poverty, hunger, disease and other social ills, all by 2015, it added.
"With five years left to accomplish the set of eight goals," said Zidane, "I hope this 8th Annual Match Against Poverty will help communicate a sense of urgency that we all need to join the team to end poverty now."
UNDP will receive half of the match's proceeds, which will go to the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti and Pakistan.
"Our goal with this 8th Match Against Poverty is to support the people and Governments of Pakistan and Haiti to recover from the devastating natural disasters which affected them so terribly in 2010," said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, expressing gratitude to Zidane and Ronaldo for raising awareness for those "who are often too quickly forgotten."
Olympiacos Football Club owner Evangelos Marinakis also expressed his hope that the match would bring people around the globe together and break down barriers. "Using football's magic driving force, Olympiacos FC is on the pitch to raise an appeal against poverty and mobilize action towards achieving the MDGs," he said.
Olympiacos will donate its share of the proceeds to the parents of children with special needs, as well as to homeless and disadvantaged communities in Piraeus.
Proceeds from previous matches have benefited anti-poverty initiatives ranging from support to female entrepreneurs to the construction of sports centres for street children and the disadvantaged throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.