ROME, Sept 19 (NNN-FAO) -- The "Asian Football against Hunger" campaign is returning to stadiums across the continent for the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC's) Champions League knockout stage matches from Sept 19 to the final in November.
Football fans will be urged to unite in a bid to foster support for people suffering from hunger.
Following the success of last year's campaign, when the AFC and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) raised over $400,000 to help poor rural families and communities in Asia, the two organizations are teaming up once again with AFC Champions League clubs to raise funds for FAO and AFC's joint projects in Asia.
By the final match in November, this solidarity campaign will have reached millions of fans through its eight participating clubs: Ulsan Hyundai (Republic of Korea), Guangzhou Evergrande (China), Sepahan (Iran), Adelaide United (Australia), Al Ahli, Al Hilal and Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) and Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan).
"AFC and Asian football are fully behind the ‘Asian Football against Hunger' campaign and we are proud to join hands with FAO in raising awareness of the importance of ending hunger," said AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong.
"For this purpose, AFC is mobilizing one of Asian football's biggest sporting platforms, the AFC Champions League Knockout Stage, and I am confident that we will send a resounding message on chronic hunger through our premier club competition."
Team supporters will be invited to participate and make donations in support of AFC-FAO projects in Asia where more than half of the world's hungry live.
From improving the nutrition of school children in Bhutan with a school garden to increasing incomes from bamboo plantations in Thailand, these projects operate at relatively low cost and on the premise that every little bit counts.
"The world's hungry and poor cannot wait for our help. They need immediate and lasting solutions that will help them to feed themselves," said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. "Football is the perfect way to encourage people to team up and make a difference."
Some of the asian clubs participating in the knockout stage have already committed to donating money to FAO-AFC joint projects in Asia.
Proud to have the opportunity to give something back to society, club players have pledged their support to the campaign. Some clubs have elected players as campaign ambassadors during the knockout matches including Nigel Boogard (Adelaide United), Viktor Karpenko (Bunyodkor), Kwak Tae Hwi (Ulsan Hyundai), Zheng Zhi (Guangzhou Evergrande) and Ahmad Jamshidian (Sepahan).
The "Asian Football against Hunger" campaign was launched in 2011 to highlight the unacceptably high incidence of hunger in the region and in the world. Funds raised last year were used to finance 42 new FAO-AFC projects.
Since 1997, individual donations to FAO have financed over 3500 community projects in more than 130 countries around the world. Donations go directly to helping poor farm families produce more and better food. -- NNN-FAO