Two weeks ago, as we approach the opening games of the European Championships, saw England take on the Rest of the World in a star studded football match at Old Trafford. Soccer Aid raised more than £4 million for UNICEF, with Robbie Williams, Will Ferrell, Gordon Ramsay, Gerard Butler and Michael Sheen amongst many others putting their bodies on the line for a good cause.
The now annual event was a good example of how celebrities can put their mass appeal to good use – as well as the gentlemen who volunteered to actually play in the match, which was televised live on ITV, Keira Knightley, Lewis Hamilton and other notable figures starred in emotive appeal videos shown on the programme.
Cause4 was pleased to see that the UK government pledge to match all of the money that was donated by the public, although the donation, it should be noted, came from the nation’s existing aid budget. In 2010, the last year for which precise statistics are available, the UK donated 0.56% of income to international aid, which whilst falling short of the UN-recommended 0.7%, makes the British Government one of the most generous donors in the world, ahead of France, Germany and the US.
Commenting on Government match funding for the event, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell commented: “Football is the UK’s national game, uniting people up and down the country – the huge public response to the Soccer Aid appeal shows that those watching tonight’s game were also united by a fantastic generosity of spirit. It is exactly that spirit that we will reflect by matching pound for pound from our existing aid budget all donations to Soccer Aid, helping UNICEF double the impact it can have.”
The event was a great success, and the individuals who gave their valuable time to the cause should be commended – it’s good to see celebrities making the headlines because of their generosity. In addition, even if the Government’s support came from existing aid funds, it was great that the coalition got into the spirit of the event. In a match that England won 3-1, the real winners can only be the children who benefit from UNICEF’s work around the world.
Did you watch the game? What are your thoughts on Government matching funding and what makes good use of funds?