Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho, one of the world’s best known sports figures, agreed to use his celebrity status to help the United Nations fight poverty when he was appointed UN Spokesperson for Sport for Development and Peace.
After meeting on Friday Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Ronaldo Assis de Moreira, or Ronaldinho as he is known worldwide, told a press conference in New York that he was "extremely honored and excited" to lend his support to the world body’s peace and development work.
"Sport is a universal language that has no barriers. Football has obviously provided me with a wonderful life, and I believe it is now my mission to give something back and to help youth understand that the power of sport can help them achieve their dreams," he said.
One of Ronaldinho’s first activities as spokesperson will be helping mobilize youth worldwide to tackle poverty in connection with the UN’s Global Youth Leadership Summit in New York set to take place from 29 to 31 October, the world body said in a press release.
His appointment was made on behalf of Adolf Ogi, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, by Djibril Diallo, Director of the UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace 2005.
"Ronaldinho’s appointment builds on the momentum of the International Year of Sport and Physical Education 2005 by helping mobilize the world of soccer and its fans in support of social and economic development, health, education and peace," Mr. Ogi, former President of Switzerland, said in a message for the event.
Ronaldinho, who is a midfield player for FC Barcelona and was the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005, will be paid a symbolic salary of one US dollar a year for his UN work, said Mr. Diallo, adding that the contract will be for two years.
In a related development, Ronaldinho was also honored for his humanitarian contributions by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which is the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).
At a ceremony in New York, Ronaldinho received the PAHO "Champion of Health" award from Deputy Director Dr. Joxel García for his work in supporting the organization’s vaccination coverage throughout the Americas, as well as its program to reduce youth violence through awareness campaigns.
Ronaldinho also serves as a UN World Food Program (WFP) Ambassador Against Hunger.