Continuing its support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UEFA has for a sixth time set aside €100,000 for a player from the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year poll to present to the ICRC.
In recognition of the fact that no player has been voted onto more UEFA.com users' Teams of the Year than he has – seven in total – this year's cheque will be presented by Real Madrid CF forward Cristiano Ronaldo before the start of tonight's UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg against Manchester United FC at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
"The people who go to the stadium, they really love football and therefore it's with great pride and with a lot of joy that we receive that prize, with it having been voted on by the fans," said Portuguese international Ronaldo. "For me, it's an honour to participate in social acts to help those who need it the most. To be able to help others makes me extremely happy."
The 28-year-old received 255,803 individual votes to win a forward place alongside FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi in the UEFA.com users' select XI.
Peter Gilliéron, a member of the UEFA Executive Committee, will hand over the cheque to Ronaldo. The donation will support the ICRC's physical rehabilitation programme for land-mine victims in Afghanistan. "Afghans have a passion for football," said Gilliéron. "The ball plays a key role not only in football, but also in the rehabilitation process of landmine victims. We thank Cristiano Ronaldo for passing on the 'ball', scoring for the Red Cross."
Caroline Welch-Ballentine, ICRC director of human resources, will receive the donation from Ronaldo. "This money will help us to help people who have lost limbs to landmines in Afghanistan," she said. "Every month, over 60 people there are killed or injured by these horrific devices. Last year alone at our seven physical rehabilitation centres in Afghanistan, we fitted 1,218 amputees with artificial limbs and taught them to walk again."
UEFA began its partnership with the ICRC, including the backing of the ICRC anti-landmine campaign, in 1997. All money donated goes to the Score for the Red Cross initiative in support of the ICRC rehabilitation project for land-mine victims in Afghanistan – providing artificial limbs, physiotherapy and vocational training. The ICRC scheme has helped more than 95,000 mine victims and other disabled people since it was established in 1988.
A record 5.3 million votes were cast in selecting the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2012, and the following players were selected:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF & Spain), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid CF & Spain), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona & Spain), Thiago Silva (AC Milan/Paris Saint-Germain FC), Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München & Germany), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona & Spain), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona & Spain), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus & Italy), Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF & Germany), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF & Portugal).