Barcelona launch UNICEF campaign

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> It's an important week for Barcelona Football Club.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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It's an important week for Barcelona Football Club. The club face a vital Champions League game away to Levski Sofia on Wednesday, knowing that anything less than victory could leave them in danger of missing out on the last 16 of this season's competition. Frank Rijkaard's side find themselves in third place in Group A with five points, having won just one of their four matches so far. Even if they do beat hapless Levski Sofia, their fate will not be decided until the final group game when they host Werder Bremen. The German club, who have seven points, host leaders Chelsea (10 points) on Wednesday, buoyed by the knowledge that the English champions are far less formidable on the road in Europe, where they have won just two of their last 10 games. Should Bremen win and Barca drop points it would mean that the Catalans giants would have to settle for a humbling move into the UEFA Cup. But the Spanish giants had other matters on their mind on Monday, re-affirming the club's commitment to charity group UNICEF, following an initial announcement two months ago. The partnership, benefiting children across the developing world, will focus on those affected by HIV/AIDS in Swaziland during it's first year. In addition to donating some $1.9 million US dollars per year to UNICEF over the next five years, Barcelona will feature the UNICEF logo on their 2006-2007 jersey - the first such placement in the club's 107-year history. "I think that Barcelona has always been more than a club in Catalunya, but know he wants to be in the rest of world helping with this humanitarian actions like this one of UNICEF to these needed people. We hope that more clubs and people will take this kind of actions and between all of us to help those people that need us," said Carles Puyol, Barcelona captain. Through the work of their foundation, Barcelona have an extensive philanthropic history. They have committed themselves to social, cultural, educational and humanitarian activities in Catalonia and have expanded internationally during the last few years under the motto, 'More than a club'. Coach Frank Rijkaard believes that the initiative will inspire his players. "I think it's a great motivation for all the players, to wear the shirt with the logo of UNICEF, because its very important and I think that they wear it with pride, because I think it's a great example, it's a great thing in the world of football, right now and in general in the world of sports," said Rijkaard. Barca will be hoping that their partnership with UNICEF translates into something positive on the field as well. The holders of the Champions League trophy need a big performance away to Levski Sofia this week to stay in the hunt for a place in the last 16 and keep hopes of successfully defending their title alive. (AP)

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