The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), FC Barcelona and its foundation Fundació Futbol Club Barcelona have announced a public alliance and kicked off a five year global partnership to extend the work of the club and benefit orphans and vulnerable children in the developing world. “Barcelona shows us that sports can be a powerful, positive force for children,” Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF’s Executive Director, said, describing the landmark alliance with the Club as a “priceless” donation. “It will push open a door of hope to thousands of children,” she added, emphasizing that UNICEF recognizes the great vehicle sports can be to reach and teach children.The legendary Spanish professional soccer team, which has been active in numerous social causes through its philanthropic foundation, marked the partnership by unveiling the new football jersey featuring the UNICEF logo, the first time in the club’s 107-year history that a logo has been featured. The new global alliance with UNICEF and the foundation begins a five-year commitment to extending collective work on behalf of children, with the Club giving financial support to projects around the globe. Club president Joan Laporta stressed the importance of the partnership with UNICEF. “It represents a historic agreement that positions our organization as ‘More than a club’ throughout the world. We are very satisfied because it’s the beginning of a challenge and this challenge is beginning to turn into concrete objectives.”In addition to the UNICEF-branded jersey, Futbol Club Barcelona has also agreed to donate at least €1.5 million per year to UNICEF over the next five years to support the agency’s programmes for children all over the world. Mr. Laporta described the agreement with UNICEF as a “landmark” event, “an initiative with soul…it means winning the ‘Champions League’ on a social level. The Club, he said, “has a future as it is helping the children of the world.”The logo, he said, is not just a publicity brand. “It’s an honour to wear the UNICEF logo because it’s an agreement without precedent for UNICEF as well.”The first campaign will kick off with in Swaziland, where they are working hard to stop AIDS in a country that has the world’s highest estimated adult HIV prevalence. In 2004, 43 per cent of women seen at antenatal clinics tested positive for HIV. But just under 12 per cent of HIV-positive pregnant women are receiving the drugs necessary to protect their newborns from contracting the virus.The first year’s donation will improve children’s lives in Swaziland, through strengthening education and sports programmes to provide better protection, care and support for orphans and vulnerable children, adding to the effort of raising public awareness to limit the spread of AIDS. Children and their mothers will have improved access to life-saving drugs to prevent transmission of HIV and dangerous opportunistic infections of the virus, including access to life-prolonging antiretroviral treatment.UNICEF is spearheading the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS global campaign which aims to ensure that children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic are an integral part of the global AIDS response.