Ronaldo, Zidane lead squad in match against poverty
Athens: Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane joined a star-studded squad for a charity football match in Athens that ended in a 2-2 draw against the leading Greek club Olympiakos.
The match was organised to put a spotlight on the global fight against poverty.
UNDP goodwill ambassadors Ronaldo and Zidane mobilised their team from across Europe to take on an all-star side from Olympiakos for the eighth edition of the Match Against Poverty.
The game, staged at Karaiskakis Stadium in Pireaus, drew a crowd of more than 30,000 spectators, with Radomir Antic and Hugo Sanchez coaching Ronaldo and Zidane`s team.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw with Ricardo Sa Pinto setting the ball rolling for Zidane`s side in the ninth minute and slotting in Nino Gomes` pass ten minutes later.
Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou scored the first goal for Olympiakos and levelled the match at 2-2 just after half-time after skillfully by-passing goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolides before firing into the empty net.
The Friends of Ronaldo and Zidane featured football greats: Pierre van Hooijdonk (Netherlands), Ronald de Boer (Netherlands), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Netherlands), Raul Albiol (Spain), Mohamadou Diarra (Mali), Ricardo Sa Pinto (Portugal), Sabri Lamouchi (France), Darko Kovacevic (Serbia), Antonis Nikopolidis (Greece), Nuno Gome(Portugal), Cornel Rapa (Romania), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Anthar Yahia (Algeria), Willam (Brazil), Silviu Ilie (Romania) and Marius Gaman (Romania).
The Olympiakos All-Star team was made up of both current and retired players such as Christian Karembeu, Darko Kovacevic, Alexandros Alexandris, Andreas Niniadis and Grigoris Georgatos.
Half of the proceeds from the match, which was backed by UEFA, will go towards the UN Development Programme`s ongoing effort to help the 25 million people in Haiti recover from the destructive earthquake earlier this year and the victims of the recent floods in Pakistan.
Funds totalling half a million euros from the 7th Annual Match Against Poverty, which took place in Lisbon, Portugal, in January, were used for a UNDP employment creation programme in Haiti which put 100,000 workers on the street to clear rubble and open up inaccessible neighbourhoods.
The UN`s millennium development goals seek to halve world poverty by 2015 by setting targets for scaling back hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.
The players said they hoped the friendly match will garner support for the global effort to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
"I want to thank everyone who came to watch the match tonight - I know that it is not easy since Greece is going through an economic crisis," said Zidane who is a UNDP goodwill ambassador, adding that the goal is "to try to fight as a team so that there is no poverty in the world".
SC Corinthians Paulista striker Ronaldo, who did not play due to injury, added "I am very happy to be here for this special match even though I can not take part in the game. I want to say a big thank-you to Olympiakos and to all the players who responded when we called on them and to the fans who came to see the game."
Olympiakos will donate its share to Argo, the Navy Union of parents with children with special needs as well as to the homeless and unfortunate of the district of Pireaus.
The game was broadcast live to more than 20 international networks, including Haiti and Pakistan.
Doctors are trying to contain a cholera strain that has killed more than 2,000 people and infected almost 81,000 in the Haitian quake aftermath.