FC Barcelona plays Manchester City - and refugee children are the winners
BARCELONA, Spain, August 24 (UNHCR) - When FC Barcelona took to the field for the 44th Joan Gamper Trophy last week, what mattered to 25 million refugees and others helped by UNHCR around the world was not the outcome - Barcelona lost 1-0 to Manchester City - but the distinctive jerseys the Spanish side were wearing.
In front of more than 94,000 fans who turned out for the annual pre-season competition that carries the name of the founder of FC Barcelona, the players sported new MÉS campaign jerseys specially designed by Nike for the occasion.
MÉS is an alliance between FC Barcelona, Nike and UNHCR launched last year with the slogan "More than a Club" to raise money for sports and education projects for young and vulnerable refugees by selling specially-designed sweatshirts, tee shirts and caps.
By wearing the newest jerseys, the FC Barcelona players intended to draw attention to the plight of the 42 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, nearly 25 million of whom were receiving protection or assistance from UNHCR at the end of 2008.
FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta said the club's commitment to work with UNHCR "is what makes us different from our competitors. It means commitment and solidarity, and Barcelona's solidarity is now a reality."
A limited edition of 1,899 of the new jerseys are being produced worldwide, the number corresponding to the year FC Barcelona was founded. The limited edition MÉS jersey will be sold exclusively in three Barcelona stores and online through the website www.mesfootball.org.
The jerseys the players wore in last week's game against Manchester City of the English Premier League will also be auctioned in September to raise more money for UNHCR projects, which have already benefited thousands of refugee children in Nepal, Ecuador, and Rwanda.
By Rosa Otero
in Barcelona, Spain