"No one is a spectator in the struggle to end poverty," said Ronaldo, who now plays for Corinthians in Brazil. "It is only through working together, on the same team, that we will achieve the Millennium Development Goals."
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development targets that 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include reducing extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, and fighting disease epidemics such as HIV/AIDS.
Zinedine Zidane, who retired from active football in 2006 but who continues to play in the annual Match Against Poverty, echoes Ronaldo’s thoughts. "We must score the eight goals through commitment, willpower and teamwork" he said.
UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, said this year’s Match takes on special importance as it comes five years before the MDG deadline. "The MDGs are enormously important targets, the achievement of which would mean a huge improvement to peoples’ lives," she said. "Achieving them will require strong partnerships; enough dedicated resources; unwavering political leadership; and a long-term strategy to ensure that how we develop and grow is sustainable in every sense."
Luis Filipe Vieira, chairman of the SLBenfica Football Club and President of Benfica Foundation, said "The Club is happy to be associated with UNDP for such an event; football is a great way to get people together for a good cause". Half the proceeds from the Match will go to the SLBenfica Foundation, targeted at social development projects in Lusophone Africa. The remaining funds will be managed by UNDP to benefit development projects.
Proceeds from previous six matches have benefited anti-poverty initiatives ranging from support to female entrepreneurs to the construction of sports centres for street children and the disadvantaged. Funds have gone to support projects throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The Match will take place at the Estàdio da Luz, Lisbon on 25 January 2010. The price of the tickets will be of 10€. Tickets can be purchased on the usual places in Lisbon for SL Benfica matches and through the club´s website at www.slbenfica.ptafter December 21 2009.