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Old Trafford echoes with ninemillion.org appeal for refugee children

Summary

More than 75,000 diehard soccer fans got an earful about the UNHCR-led ninemillion.org fund raising and awareness campaign for refugee children at a recent crunch match between Manchester United and arch rivals Arsenal.

On the hallowed turf of Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, UNHCR senior external affairs officer Peter Kessler explained the landmark campaign during a half-time interview over the stadium’s tannoy system, which was also broadcast on the home team’s MUTV.

The Cars single “Drive” resounded across the stadium as Kessler walked onto the pitch at the invitation of Manchester United and Nike, which is among the main sponsors of the world-famous club and a supporter of ninemillion.org. The hit song reached No. 4 on the British charts in 1984, the year that Ethiopia’s famine drove home the need for people around the world to respond to the needs of people in Africa. “The crowd really came to a halt, and looked, when they heard the American voice talking about refugee children,” said Brian Larkin, who was watching the game.

The campaign’s distinctive publicity featuring photos of refugee children and the phrase “Let them play, let them learn” was displayed on side panels throughout the match at Old Trafford and also featured in the match programme.