UNHCR auctions ball signed by England team to raise funds for refugees

News Stories, 28 June 2006

© UNHCR/A.Sharif
UNHCR is auctioning this football on the internet to help raise funds for its programmes. Signed by England's World Cup stars, the ball was donated by UNHCR goodwill ambassador Giorgio Armani and is on offer on the eBay auction site.

LONDON, June 28 (UNHCR) England fans eagerly awaiting Saturday's World Cup quarter-final clash with Portugal have a rare chance to purchase a unique ball signed by the England squad, making sure that humanitarian aid reaches some of the world's most needy people at the same time.

UNHCR is auctioning a Football Association-certified football on the internet. Signed by key players of the England team, the eBay auction will help raise funds to care for refugees and displaced people around the world.

The football, going on sale during the World Cup, is one of two donated to the refugee agency by UNHCR goodwill ambassador Giorgio Armani. The special footballs are signed by David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and many more England stars.

The unique football auction to benefit UNHCR was launched last Saturday and will run until July 4. Both footballs include an FA authentication certificate suitable for framing. The exclusive England football auction is on www.ebay.co.uk/charity.

"During a time when so many nations come together and converse in the international language of football, this auction is a rare opportunity to get a prized England ball and help ease the serious problems faced by people forced to flee their homes," said Bemma Donkoh, UNHCR's representative to Britain.

"As England prepare to face Portugal in the quarter-final of the World Cup, a lucky bidder has the chance to win an incredible England team football and thus help ease the plight of refugees around the world," Donkoh said. "A significant number of refugees around the world are children and youths who, like their peers in other countries, dream of playing one day for their national side in the World Cup."

Refugees in camps around the world have been running their own football tournaments to coincide with the month-long World Cup in Germany. The UNHCR ball should soar in value if England reach and win the final in Berlin on July 9.

The UN refugee agency, which cares for more than 20 million people worldwide, including more than eight million refugees forced to flee their homes and cross into other countries, is almost entirely reliant on voluntary contributions to care for the displaced.

Edit 13 July 2006: The winning bid for the signed football when the auction ended on 4 July was £670 ($1,230).