Global football event raises EUR 3.5m for flood victims
Ljubljana, 16 September - Over EUR 3.5 million was raised for flood victims during a charity football game featuring a number of legendary names at the sold-out Ljubljana Stožice stadium last night. The match was won 5:4 in overtime by the blue team, featuring Zlatan Ibrahimović, Gianluigi Buffon and Miroslav Klose, among others.
"I would like to thank all those who have helped, all who bought a ticker, all who donated, and above all our friends on the pitch," Aleksander Čeferin, the president of Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), who initiated the idea, said before the match.
Some 16,000 spectators enjoyed the spectacle live at the stadium, but it was also broadcast in more than 100 countries around the globe, the organisers said. During half time, the event was addressed by the legendary Brazilian player Ronaldo in a video message.
The blue team was headed by Matjaž Kek, the head coach of the Slovenian national team. It included Buffon, Paolo Maldini, Eric Abidal, Vedran Ćorluka, Ibrahimović, Javier Zanetti, Davor Šuker, Zvonimir Boban, Clarence Seedorf, Miran Pavlin, Predrag Mijatović, Klose, Dimitar Berbatov, Boštjan Cesar, Levan Kobiašvili, Milivoje Novaković and Marcos Tavares.
The red team was headed by the legendary Italian coach Fabio Capello and it included David James, Dario Srna, Nemanja Vidić, Mikael Silvestre, Branko Ilić, Aljoša Asanović, Robert Pires, Luis Figo, Oliver Bierhoff, Andrej Ševčenko, Milenko Aćimović, Hamit Altintop, Mišo Brečko, Bojan Jokić, Robert Koren, Dejan Savičević, Mario Mandžukić, Giorgios Karagunis and Ivica Olić.
The players entered the pitch in the company of children from the Mengeš kindergarten who had to be evacuated as the floods hit on 4 August, the photos of the rescue efforts shaking the country. Moreover, some 1,600 members of the civil protection services, firefighters and soldiers were among the spectators.
Kek expressed gratitude after the game. "A big thank you to all; for the idea, to the organisers, the fantastic spectators, everybody, including the global football stars for making their mark and helping to raise much-needed funds."
Kek was honoured to lead a team of legendary footballers. "A great privilege and a lot of respect. But, you saw it for yourself: some a bit on the heavy side, some with thinner hair, but all showed the will and this is yet another proof that they will always be masters of football."