FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi donated 4.5 million Argentinian pesos (equal to £315,000) to UNICEF's "Un Sol Para Los Chicos" campaign on Aug. 8. Messi has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for five years.
Lionel Messi has donated 4.5 million Argentinian pesos to UNICEF.
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Messi's donation is equal to £315,000. The proceeds will go directly to the organization's "Un Sol Para Los Chicos" campaign. It is similar to "Children In Need," per Mirror Online's Ed Malyon.
Messi made the announcement in a video link during the campaign. An estimated five million people in Argentina saw the video, per Malyon.
Messi signed a two-year deal to become a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on March 11, 2010. He told UNICEF.org about his commitment to children.
"I know there are a lot of children, many that don't have an education, many that don't have good nutrition," Messi said. "I am ready to do everything I can to help them in my collaboration with UNICEF."
Back then, FC Barcelona had already been committed to UNICEF. Its FC Barcelona Foundation educates children about fair play, health and education, per UNICEF.org.
FC Barcelona is the first sports team to advocate a cause. UNICEF agreed to stitch its logo on the club's jerseys in 2006, per UNICEF.org.
In 2010, FC Barcelona pledged $5 million to HIV and AIDS programs. It set aside another $3 million for other causes. This includes the tragic earthquake in Haiti, per UNICEF's official website.
Messi and then-teammate Jose Manuel Pinto visited Thailand for a UNICEF event in 2013. They reached out to children with disabilities, per UNICEF.org.
Messi said playing with them "is no different than playing with any other children."
Messi is training for FC Barcelona's Supercopa de Espana match against Athletic Club. Messi's performance in last month's Copa America Final has sparked criticism, per Mirror Online.
He scored just one goal in six matches. Argentina's loss comes a year after it fell to Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final, per Mirror Online.
Malyon says Messi's generous gesture should help offset the criticism.
Gerardo Martino said would quit playing for the national team if he were Messi. Martino is Argentina's manager, per Mirror Online.
"If I was in Lionel Messi's place, I would already have stopped playing (for Argentina) a while ago, but would have continued playing for Barcelona.
"To even speak about the criticisms of Messi is giving weight to something that doesn't merit any sort of analysis whatsoever.
"Not from his mouth, nor from mine, nor from the mouth of the president of the Argentine football association has anything been said about Messi taking a break from the national team.
"It makes it all very difficult to explain when nobody involved had actually said anything!"
Former Argentine national player Jorge Valdano has defended Messi. Valdano told TyC Sports (via ESPN FC) on Aug. 7 he does not understand why so many people are criticizing Messi:
"We are talking about the best player in the world, one of the best in history without any doubt. Everyone all around the world enjoys him, and here we condemn him. It is difficult for me to understand.
"We cannot expect Messi to carry all the expectations among the Argentine public. He's a genius, but you cannot expect him to be a genius all the time, in every game. On some occasions he cannot be a savior.
"But that is not a reason to treat him so badly, as has happened since the Copa America.
"Fortunately he is a person who can accept these things naturally. I hope he does not get bored, does not get tired, that this not produce a decisive reaction which breaks his relationship with the national team. We need him more than anyone."
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