Celebrity charity football match raises €3.5 million for flood victims
A charity match bringing together global football celebrities in Ljubljana on 15 September raised over €3.5 million for the victims of the devastating August floods in Slovenia.
"I would like to thank all those who have helped, all who bought a ticket, all those who donated, and above all our friends on the pitch," the host, UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin told the sold-out event.
Some 16,000 spectators enjoyed the spectacle at the Stožice Stadium, but it was also broadcast in more than 100 countries around the globe, the organisers said. During half time, the event was addressed by the legendary Brazilian player Ronaldo in a video message.
The match saw the blue team, featuring Zlatan Ibrahimović, Gianluigi Buffon and Miroslav Klose, among others, defeat the red one 5:4 after a penalty shootout.
Headed by Slovenia's head coach, Matjaž Kek, the winning team also included Paolo Maldini, Eric Abidal, Vedran Ćorluka, Javier Zanetti, Davor Šuker, Zvonimir Boban, Clarence Seedorf, Miran Pavlin, Predrag Mijatović, Dimitar Berbatov, Boštjan Cesar, Levan Kobiašvili, Milivoje Novaković and Marcos Tavares.
The red team was headed by the legendary Italian coach Fabio Capello, and featured David James, Dario Srna, Nemanja Vidić, Mikael Silvestre, Branko Ilić, Aljoša Asanović, Robert Pires, Luis Figo, Oliver Bierhoff, Andrej Ševčenko, Milenko Aćimović, Hamit Altintop, Mišo Brečko, Bojan Jokić, Robert Koren, Dejan Savičević, Mario Mandžukić, Giorgios Karagunis and Ivica Olić.
The players entered the pitch in the company of children from the Mengeš kindergarten who had to be evacuated by firefighters as the floods hit on 4 August, the photos of the rescue effort shaking the country.
Some 1,600 members of the civil protection services, firefighters and soldiers were among the spectators.
Kek expressed gratitude after the game. "A big thank you to all; for the idea, to the organisers, the fantastic spectators, everybody, including the global football stars for making their mark and helping to raise much-needed funds."
Kek was honoured to lead a team of legendary footballers. "A great privilege and a lot of respect. But, you saw it for yourself: some a bit on the heavy side, some with thinner hair, but all showed the will and this is yet another proof that they will always be masters of football."