Soccerball.jpgThe European Professional Football Leagues joined the UN Food and Agriculture Organization this week to launch a campaign to raise funds and awareness for world hunger.

Professional Football Against Hunger brings together former Italian football star Roberto Baggio and other famous names in European football with the Ministers of Sport from Austria, Italy, Spain and representatives from seven Members of the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL).

The campaign includes more than 960 professional football clubs across Europe in the global fight against hunger and poverty

“The proceeds from the campaign will be used to finance micro-projects in developing countries. Currently some 2 600 such projects are underway in 130 countries,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf at the launching ceremony.

“The EPFL is proud of joining FAO at the forefront of the fight against hunger and malnutrition worldwide. We are committed to use the power of professional football and the influence of our 28 member leagues to eradicate this scourge – a problem that doesn’t affect only the world’s poorest nations. This is our moral obligation, our indeclinable duty, as access to food is a fundamental human right, and cannot be denied to any individual” said EPFL CEO Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros at the launching ceremony.

During the ceremony at FAO headquarters, the EPFL announced that as part of the Europe-wide campaign a football weekend against hunger would take place on 20-22 March 2009 to raise awareness and funds in the struggle against hunger. The weekend will involve all league members and associate members. In January 2009, league representatives, including well-known football players will also visit countries in which FAO field projects are located.

Also attending the ceremony were former Italian football world champion Dino Zoff, former Portuguese team captain Fernando Couto and FAO Goodwill Ambassador Justine Pasek, Ms Universe 2002, of Panama.

With the number of the world’s undernourished now at over 920 million people — just under one-sixth of the world’s population — increasing understanding among youth and European society may help to bring pressure to bear on governments to end hunger, also known as the silent killer.

The leagues represented were the: Lega Nazionale Professionisti and Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico (Italy), Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (Spain), DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH (Germany), Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Professional (Portugal), Union of 1.SNL (Slovenia) and the Football League (United Kingdom).

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