Football legends to play for Yolanda survivors

Posted at 02/19/2014 5:49 PM | Updated as of 02/19/2014 5:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Luis Figo, Fabio Cannavaro and Patrick Vieira have accepted the invitation of Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane to help the Philippines by participating in the 11th annual Match Against Poverty on March 4 at the Stade de Suisse.

The Match Against Poverty is supported by FIFA, the world governing body for football.

Proceeds from the match will support recovery efforts in the Philippines in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), one of the most powerful storms on record.

“I am making an appeal to the public to come to the Stade de Suisse,” Figo, the 2000 Ballon d’Or winner and 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year said in a report on the FIFA website. “I would be delighted to see the stands full of people so we could celebrate football together in the fight against poverty.”

“I am very excited about this game,” said Vieira, who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Euro 2000. “Football speaks a universal language, and we need to take advantage of this to appeal for the reconstruction of the Philippines.”

“It is a great honor to play alongside these talented players who have had such successful careers,” said Cannavaro, the 2006 FIFA World Cup winner and World Player of the Year.

“Unfortunately, natural disasters affect us every year. The fight against poverty must be constant, and I’m very happy if I can contribute to it through football,” he added.

Already confirmed for the Ronaldo, Zidane & Friends team are: Ronald de Boer (Netherlands), Steve McManaman and Jamie Carragher (England), Robert Pires, Claude Makéléle, Christian Karembeu and Patrick Vieira (France), Jens Lehmann (Germany), Gaizka Mendieta, Fernando Hierro and Michel Salgado (Spain), Paulo Ferreira, Fernando Couto, Luis Figo, Paulo Sousa and Deco (Portugal), Marta, Giovane Elber, Juliano Belletti and Roberto Carlos (Brazil), Pavel Nedvěd (Czech Republic), Gianluca Zambrotta, Gennaro Gattuso, Christian Vieri and Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Hakan Sukur (Turkey) Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan) and Freddie Ljungberg (Sweden).

Former and present BSC Young Boys players will comprise the Young Boys & Friends team, led by former Swiss international players Stéphane Chapuisat and Hakan Yakin.

“To have celebrities like Ronaldo, Zidane and Marta lending their names as goodwill ambassadors to the work of UNDP means more to us than money could ever buy,” UNDP administrator Helen Clark said.

“Their reputations are so fantastic, their followings are so great that for them to be talking about the work that we do to help devastated communities and people moving out from poverty is just so valuable,” she added.