AFC Champions League joins fight against hunger


The “Asian Football against Hunger” campaign is returning to stadiums across Asia for the ACL Knockout stage matches. Football fans will be urged to unite in a bid to foster support for people in need.

The “Asian Football against Hunger” campaign is returning to stadiums across Asia for the AFC Champions League (ACL) Knockout stage matches starting from September 19 to the ACL final in November. Football fans will be urged to unite in a bid to foster support for people in need.

Following the success of last year-s campaign, when the AFC and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) raised over $400 000 to help poor rural families and communities in Asia, the two organisations are teaming up once again with AFC Champions League clubs to raise funds for AFC and FAO-s joint projects in Asia.

By the final match, this solidarity campaign will have reached millions of fans through its eight participating clubs: Ulsan Hyundai (Korea Republic), Guangzhou Evergrande (China), Sepahan (Iran), Adelaide United (Australia), Al Ahli, Al Hilal and Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) and Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan).

“AFC and Asian football are fully behind the Asian Football against Hunger campaign and we are proud to join hands with FAO in raising awareness of the importance of ending hunger,” said AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong.

“For this purpose, AFC is mobilising one of Asian football-s biggest sporting platforms, the AFC Champions League Knockout Stage, and I am confident that we will send a resounding message on chronic hunger through our premier club competition.”

Every little bit counts
Team supporters will be invited to participate and make donations in support of AFC-FAO projects in Asia where more than half of the world-s hungry live. From improving the nutrition of school children in Bhutan with a school garden to increasing incomes from bamboo plantations in Thailand, these projects operate at relatively low cost and on the premise that every little bit counts.

“The world-s poor cannot wait for our help. They need immediate and lasting solutions that will help them to feed themselves,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. “Football is the perfect way to encourage people to team up and make a difference.”

Some of the ACL clubs participating in the knockout stage have already committed to donating money to FAO-AFC joint projects in Asia.

Giving back
Proud to have the opportunity to give something back to society, club players have pledged their support to the campaign. Some clubs have appointed players as campaign ambassadors during the knockout matches including Nigel Boogaard (Adelaide United), Viktor Karpenko (Bunyodkor), Kwak Tae Hwi (Ulsan Hyundai), Zheng Zhi (Guangzhou Evergrande) and Ahmad Jamshidian (Sepahan).

“I have seen many parts of the world during my career as a football professional and I always realised that I am lucky being in a much better position than so many other people,” Boogaard said.

“Now I am in a position to give back and help people by advising on the fatal living conditions of more than 500 million people in Asia. By supporting small-scale projects we can make a difference on the life of poor rural communities.”

Several initiatives, including “Asian Football Against Hunger” banners, t-shirts worn by the players entering the field, tannoy announcements, stadium video screenings, extensive media coverage and club web and social media campaigns will bring the campaign to the attention of fans.

The “Asian Football against Hunger” campaign was launched in 2011 to highlight the unacceptably high incidence of hunger in the region and in the world. Funds raised last year were used to finance 42 new AFC-FAO projects.

Since 1997, individual donations to FAO have financed over 3500 community projects in more than 130 countries around the world. Donations go directly to helping poor farm families produce more and better food.