Footballers unite against AIDS
09 December 2009
On Saturday, 5 December 2009, Manchester City Stadium in the UK turned off its lights before the players entered the stadium as the UNAIDS campaign “UNITING THE WORLD AGAINST AIDS” featuring Michael Ballack and Emmanuel Adebayor played on the stadium’s two large scoreboards.
The match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City took place during the week of World AIDS Day, a time of solidarity for people living with HIV. The Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé was invited as a guest of honor, to attend the game and meet the UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassadors at this unique event.
We must use this popular game as a force for change to reverse the spread of epidemic and raise people’s awareness around the disease and how to protect themselves.
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director
A Goodwill Ambassador since 2006, Michael Ballack who plays for Chelsea has dedicated much of his time and effort to support UNAIDS and the AIDS response. He has helped leverage FIFA to include HIV prevention in the World Cup preparations; spoken to leading politicians to pledge for a scaled up commitment to the AIDS response; and, disseminated HIV prevention messages through the media. Michael Ballack has dedicated space for UNAIDS and for HIV prevention messages on his own web site www.michael-ballack.com, and has featured in numerous media outlets including BBC, CNN, Newsweek and Der Spiegel.
Manchester City star, Emmanuel Adebayor was appointed a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador in March 2009, but began supporting UNAIDS prior to this date. Since joining UNAIDS, Emmanuel has engaged with the press to highlight the need for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. He has spoken out about the importance of eliminating stigma and discrimination and undertaken an AIDS awareness mission in his native Togo.
In 2008, Emanuelle Adebayor teamed up with Michael Ballack to star in the successful AIDS awareness campaign “United Against AIDS”, where the players feature in a public service announcement and print campaign. The story line builds around their rivalry on the pitch – but off the pitch – they are ‘united against AIDS’. The campaign also includes posters and postcards featuring HIV prevention messages.
As a former member of the Malian national football team, the Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé is especially aware of the unique impact sport can play in the response. “We must use this popular game as a force for change to reverse the spread of epidemic and raise people’s awareness around the disease and how to protect themselves,” said Michel Sidibé.
UNAIDS’ Executive Director also met with the CEO of Manchester City Football Club, Mr Gary Cook, to thank him for his generous support to UNAIDS. Mr Cook congratulated UNAIDS on the current campaign and pledged his continued support to the initiative.“Together we can unite the world against AIDS”.