SOCCER Aid for UNICEF 2021, broadcast live from the Etihad Stadium, has raised a record-breaking £13,014,769 so far for UNICEF’s vital work keeping children around the world happy, healthy and able to play.
This record-breaking amount was raised thanks to the generous support of the UK public and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), who matched all public donations up to £6.3 million, meaning double the difference for children. This figure has smashed all previous records for money raised on the night.
The eagerly anticipated match took place again in Manchester. This time, players took centre stage at the sold-out Etihad Stadium with 51,674 fans in attendance, in line with current Covid safety regulations, following last year’s match behind closed doors. The match ended 3-0 to Soccer Aid World XI, and UNICEF ambassador David Beckham presented the Soccer Aid for UNICEF shield to the winning Soccer Aid World XI FC team.
It was another enthralling contest between England, led by Olly Murs and the Soccer Aid World XI FC, captained by Usain Bolt. England, co-managed by former England international Manager Sven Goran-Eriksson and Soccer Aid for UNICEF co-founder and UNICEF UK Ambassador Robbie Williams, were up against Soccer Aid for UNICEF stalwart Harry Redknapp and inspirational tennis coach, Judy Murray.
Match highlights included Player of the Match, Kem Cetinay scoring two goals for the Soccer Aid World XI FC – meaning the former Love Islander has now netted in each of the matches he has played in: 2019, 2020 and 2021, which is an all-time Soccer Aid for UNICEF record.
The first half saw feisty tackles from Tom Grennan, two attempted goals from James Bay and great energy from Harriet Pavlou. However, ITV favourite Stephen Mulhern was revealed as the Masked Winger, kicking off the second half and receiving a yellow card within minutes. The England team attempted to make a comeback with a near miss from Wayne Rooney. However, the Soccer Aid World XI FC held strong with an incredible late goal from underdog Lee Mack in the match’s final minutes, following his infamous penalty misses in previous years.
As the only official FA sanctioned mixed-gender match, Kelly Smith MBE and Fara Williams returned for England, whilst Julie Fleeting and Chelcee Grimes returned for the Soccer Aid World XI FC. In addition, Fara Williams, Harriet Pavlou and Ingrid Moe Wold all made their Soccer Aid for UNICEF debuts.
Making up the star-studded squads were new and returning players including Wayne Rooney, Sir Mo Farah, Gary Neville, Mark Wright, James Arthur, Paul Scholes, Roberto Carlos, Patrice Evra, Ore Oduba, Martin Compston, Lee Mack, Kem Cetinay, Joel Dommett, Yung Blood, Chunkz, Olly Murs, Max Whitlock and Jamie Redknapp.
Tonight’s show was presented by ITV favourite and UNICEF UK Ambassador, Dermot O’Leary, with Alex Scott making her Soccer Aid for UNICEF presenting debut as Pitch Side Reporter.
Joining Dermot in the studio providing punditry were UNICEF UK Ambassador James Nesbitt and Maya Jama. The commentary was provided by Sam Matterface, who was joined by former Soccer Aid World XI FC player and the infamous voice of Love Island, Iain Stirling.
Throughout the ITV show, short appeal films presented by UNICEF UK Ambassadors Olivia Colman and David Harewood, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham OBE and Olly Murs, Alesha Dixon and Martin Compston highlighted where the vital money raised by Soccer Aid for UNICEF goes. At halftime, David Harewood also came onto the pitch to galvanise the Etihad Stadium crowd and ITV audience to donate in a special one-off moment. He spoke about his experience of how the money raised changes children’s lives.
All the money raised tonight through Soccer Aid for UNICEF could help UNICEF deliver 2 billion Covid-19 vaccines to frontline healthcare workers, social workers and teachers around the world and help children get back to school, beat malnutrition, and get the healthcare they need today and long after the crisis is over. So it’s us against Covid for every child, everywhere.
Robbie Williams, Soccer Aid for UNICEF co-founder, England Manager and UNICEF UK Ambassador, said:
“What an incredible night at the Etihad! I’m so proud to have been involved in another fantastic Soccer Aid for UNICEF and to have raised a record-breaking amount of money. With fans back in the stadium for the match, the atmosphere was electric tonight. 15 years ago when the idea behind Soccer Aid for UNICEF was born, I could only dream of moments like tonight and another £13 million raised for children around the world is something I want to thank all of the public for!”
Steven Waugh, Interim Executive Director at the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), said:
“This year, Soccer Aid for UNICEF has had its biggest challenge as the Covid crisis is making life for children in the world’s poorest countries even harder – the support of the UK public is vital, and I am so proud of what we have achieved so far. When the final whistle blew this evening, it might have meant the end of the game, but it’s really only the beginning for the children whose lives will be changed by the money raised tonight. Thank you so much for your support.”
Kate Hampton, CEO of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, said:
“The real winners from Saturday’s match will be the vulnerable children and families around the world who will receive crucial support, thanks to the public’s generous support for Soccer Aid this year. In partnership with Soccer Aid for UNICEF, we want to prevent and protect children from hunger and malnutrition and bring life-saving therapeutic food to treat those already suffering. We are delighted we have been able to match donations – up to £6.3 million.”
Kevin Lygo, Director of Television, ITV, said:
“Everyone at ITV is thrilled to have broadcast another great match, and we are delighted that the generous donations made by ITV viewers have helped to raise the biggest on-air totaliser in Soccer Aid for UNICEF history to assist UNICEF in their vital work, helping children around the world. We want to thank all of the amazing talents for giving up their time for such a worthy cause and all the teams involved in putting this live show, and the special Soccer Aid programming that formed ITV’s first-ever Soccer Aid Week.”
Soccer Aid for UNICEF was broadcast live on ITV and STV and is produced by Initial. Soccer Aid has now raised over £60 million for UNICEF since its inception in 2006.
The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) matched public donations and fundraising along with the value of every ticket purchased for Soccer Aid for UNICEF, meaning everything was doubled – up to a total of £6.3 million.
Visit socceraid.org.uk to find out more, pay in your donations and follow @SoccerAid on Twitter and Instagram, ‘Soccer Aid’ on Facebook and use the hashtag #SoccerAid.