Soccer Aid: The Next Kick-off
Soccer Aid for Unicef is a unique fundraising football match that has raised £24 million over the past decade to help children in need across the world. The charity has been able to help millions by providing clean water, vaccines, food and safer facilities for schools, such as new toilet blocks.
The biennial charity event raises money through ticket sales and public donations as two all-star teams - one representing England and the other representing Rest of the World - kick off for 90 minutes of fun and entertainment.
Launched by singing icon Robbie Williams and TV presenter and singer Jonathan Wilkes in 2006 at Old Trafford football stadium in Manchester, on 27th May the first match was televised live by ITV in a show presented by Ant and Dec.
First Soccer Aid
The teams are made up of a mixture of former professional footballers, athletes from other sports and celebrities from the world of entertainment. Unlimited substitutes are permitted. Although it's meant as a fun match aimed at raising money, the players take it seriously.
The first Soccer Aid in 2006 lasted for six days and featured a televised penalty shoot-out on 22nd May, in which the Rest of the World defeated England. There were two "friendlies" at Craven Cottage in London, when England beat the England Legends 1-0 on 23rd May and Scotland Legends beat Rest of the World 7-3 on 24th May.
Following six days of warming up, including a football quiz on 25th May - won by the Rest of the World - the main Soccer Aid match took place on 27th May.
The first England squad in 2006 was managed by former England team manager Terry Venables and the celebrity players included captain Robbie Williams, Jonathan Wilkes, snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan, TV presenter Bradley Walsh, Shameless actor Dean Lennox Kelly and former Have I Got News For You presenter Angus Deayton.
The professional players included former England goalkeeper David Seaman, Paul Gascoigne, Tony Adams, Jamie Redknapp, Les Ferdinand and Bryan Robson.
The RoW squad included Holland legend Ruud Gullit as manager, Uruguayan former player Gus Poyet as assistant manager, Argentinian Diego Maradona, Scottish celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who was captain, Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and French icon David Ginola.
The professional referee was Italian Pierluigi Collina, who was considered the best referee in history by many football fans.
Ferdinand put England ahead after 14 minutes and Wilkes scored England's second after 20 minutes. The score remained 2-0 to England until Maradona's penalty made it 2-1 in the 75th minute, but England managed to hold on for the victory.
Soccer Aid has gone from strength to strength over the years since the first match in 2006. There have been subsequent matches every two years, the last one being in 2016. Currently, England has won the most matches, with victories in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Rest of the World won in 2010 by 6-7 in a penalty shootout, after the final score at the end of 90 minutes was 2-2. RoW won again in 2014, beating England 4-2. Every match has been held at Old Trafford, apart from in 2010 when it was held at Wembley Stadium.
Top goal scorers in the history of Soccer Aid are Teddy Sheringham and Wilkes with three each for England and Clarence Seedorf of Suriname, with three goals for RoW.
Dermot O'Leary became the main presenter in 2010. As well as being broadcast by ITV in the UK, the broadcasting rights have been bought by television stations in Brazil, China, Colombia and Ireland and by Fox Sports for Latin America.
The millions of pounds raised by Soccer Aid has helped children in the poorest nations across the world. In Djibouti, hundreds of thousands of children have been protected from deadly diseases such as measles through vaccinations.
In Ethiopia, where one in three child deaths is caused by issues relating to malnutrition, Soccer Aid has improved healthcare and nutrition by launching Unicef-supported health centres. To date, 1.2 million children have been helped by the health centres in Ethiopia, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.
Soccer Aid funding around the world has contributed towards providing 2.71 million doses of vaccines in 100 countries, helping 40% of the world's children. It has also provided fresh drinking water for 13.8 million people and improved sanitation for 11.3 million people. It has ensured more than 9.3 million people have access to safe, hygienic toilets. More than 10,000 schools have been refurbished with improved washroom facilities, including building separate toilet blocks for boys and girls.
With Soccer Aid's help, children have access to safe, clean drinking water that won't make them sick. In countries such as Nigeria, where almost three-quarters of the population don’t have clean water, subsequent illnesses, such as sickness and diarrhoea, cause thousands of deaths each year. Soccer Aid is aiming to make sure everyone has clean water for drinking and washing.
Soccer Aid 2018
This year, Soccer Aid is back with its usual all-star format, as celebrities from the worlds of sport, music and TV gather at Old Trafford for the charity football event on 10th June.
Robbie Williams returns to lead the England XI, while the captain of the RoW legends this year will be Olympic icon Usain Bolt. The Jamaican sprint champion has already been confirmed as leading out the Rest of World squad.
Eight-times Olympic champion Bolt has expressed an interest in playing professional football after retiring from international athletics. In March, he was pictured training with German team Borussia Dortmund.
Other players who have confirmed they will be taking part this year include Robert Pires, Clarence Seedorf, Gordon Ramsay and British Olympic champion distance runner Mo Farah. The match will be kicking off at 8pm in front of a capacity crowd at Old Trafford and will again be broadcast live on ITV.
Tickets and hospitality packages are available by calling 0161 444 2018 or they can be booked online through the Manchester United FC website.
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