Sir Alex Ferguson and his counterpart, Barcelona boss Josep Guardiola, issue a joint statement ahead of the UEFA Champions League final...
At 19:45 BST on Saturday 28 May, the world will be watching as our two clubs, Manchester United and FC Barcelona, meet for the UEFA Champions League Final. For both of our clubs it’s been a truly historic year, and this match will be the culmination of two remarkable seasons.
Whilst we each have immense respect for each others achievements as managers and as teams, on Saturday you will find no two greater rivals. On the pitch we will compete to win in this fierce competition. But off the pitch we each stand united in a common cause - our responsibility to help the most disadvantaged and hardest to reach children, through our partnerships with UNICEF.
It’s no secret that our belief in nurturing young people and helping them to realize their sporting potential is core to both our clubs. But this belief isn’t just limited to our squads. As clubs with global followings we recognize the important responsibility we each have to children not just within the UK and Spain but worldwide. Wherever you are born, as a child you have the right to fulfill your dreams.
Children face huge challenges on a daily basis - challenges just to survive, to grow and to get an education. Every four seconds a child dies due to disease or lack of food. During the 90 minutes it will take to play Saturday’s final an estimated, 1,350 children will die, often from preventable diseases. The children that do make it to school age often drop out by the millions and poverty is often the cause. This is wrong, and we are each supporting UNICEF’s work to put this right.
Since 1999 Manchester United has supported UNICEF. Together we are working to ensure children survive and thrive by funding health centres in the poorest parts of Africa. For the last five years, FC Barcelona has supported UNICEF by funding HIV/AID’s programmes in Africa to prevent HIV/AIDS infection and protect children and families affected. Next season the club is looking forward to taking this ground-breaking partnership to the next stage utilizing the social assets of the club in support of a global movement for education and sport that will deliver tangible results for children. Together Manchester United and Barcelona are helping to improve the lives of 2.6 million children.