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11.03.2010 14:58

“Leo, welcome!”


"Leo, welcome!" That is how UNICEF executive director, Ann Veneman, celebrated the announcement of the joint venture between Messi and the international body.

The many people present in Sala París were delighted to see Leo Messi officially become a worldwide ambassador of goodwill for UNICEF. There was general satisfaction all round at Barça.

2010-03-11_MESSI_UNICEF_001.jpgPhilip O’Brien, Global Director of Corporate Partnerships for UNICEF was the first to explain how Leo Messi is a global icon. “Many children around the world imitate him, and not just as a footballer. He is only 22 so he can influence the way young people think. He wins the respect of boys and girls. We are proud and emotional. In the name of FC Barcelona, UNICEF and also all the young people of the world, welcome to the UNICEF family”, he enthusiastically proclaimed.

Barça satisfied

2010-03-11_MESSI_UNICEF_014.jpgFor Joan Laporta, this Thursday was all about recognising the good work done by the Foundation. “Messi will work to support the most vulnerable children and to defend their rights. It is excellent news and at the same time, and excellent initiative. Leo knows all about leadership on the pitch, the value of effort and responsibility. He values the importance of teamwork. He knows that this is a shared commitment to UNICEF”, said the president of FC Barcelona, who also pointed out that since 2006, Barça has been highly committed to UNICEF.

Laporta also explained how Barça and its Foundation have done so much to make the players such icons for charitable causes. “We are the club for all children around the world and have set standards for solidarity”, said Laporta, and also praised Leo Messi’s family for their support and making sure “he has kept his feet on the ground, despite his worldwide importance as a player”.

Fruit of alliance

2010-03-11_MESSI_UNICEF_004.jpgWhen FC Barcelona agreed to assist UNICEF in September 2006, one of the most prominent figures in the initiative was the executive director UNICEF, Ann Veneman. This Thursday Veneman was in Sala París via a video broadcast, in which she said, “Leo, in the name of all the children in the world, welcome! We are very proud to have you with us.”

Marta Segú, general director of the Foundation, who chaired the event, claimed it to be historic moment. “This is an unforgettable day for collective memory. This recognition is a prestige and honour for the Foundation. He was the right choice. Having Leo Messi at UNICEF is having a star as an ambassador for charity causes” said Segú.
“Leo, welcome!”

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Philip O’Brien was one of the people with the most to say. The UNICEF representative also had a confession to make. “I have three children and they take more notice of you than me!” said O’Brien, as he showed just how important this player’s role is going to be. O’Brien went on to repeat what a great understanding has developed between the organisation and the club. “Our leadership is vital in order for children to have a voice. We cannot leave one child without a voice” he concluded.

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