The FC Barcelona Foundation and UNHCR on Tuesday announced a major joint campaign to rally support for refugee children.
The #SignAndPass campaign, launched with the support of key players from the football club, marks a new and important step forward in cooperation between the two organisations.
Barcelona players Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr were the first to pledge their support and join the campaign in an exclusive video.
“I am proud to be a part of this important initiative in favour of refugees and hope it will help change the dramatic situation that millions of refugee children around the world are currently experiencing. Sign and pass!” said Messi.
The #SignAndPass campaign is inspired by Barcelona’s football philosophy, where one-touch, short passing between players has been a hallmark of their recent success. Supporters can digitally sign a football online and then pass it to their friends via social media.
By signing the ball, supporters add their name to UNHCR’s #WithRefugees petition, which calls on world governments and fellow citizens to make sure all refugees can have a safe place to live, receive an education and be able to work, so they can provide for their families.
The event, which will be chaired by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the President of FC Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu also aims to rally support from civil society actors, including humanitarian and sport organisations as well as members of the business, technology and culture sectors.
Bartomeu said: “This is one of the most serious problems that the world has had to face in recent decades. With over 21 million refugees, more than half of them being children, we feel it is our responsibility to contribute through sport, using it as a tool to achieve social change.”
The FC Barcelona Foundation also announced the roll-out of FutbolNet programme in refugee reception centres in Greece, Italy and Lebanon starting from July.