When UEFA’s elite club competitions resume this week, the shirts of every player will carry the words ‘Thank You’ in their team’s chosen language – a symbol of European football’s recognition of key workers for their tireless contributions on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am delighted that our competitions are back, but we must not forget the people whose dedication and personal sacrifices have given us the opportunity to start playing again,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Monday.
Players lead by example
In addition to the words of gratitude printed on each team’s shirts, dedicated TV spots will be broadcast during UEFA matches, in which players representing teams competing in the men’s and women’s UEFA Champions Leagues, as well as the UEFA Europa League, express their own thanks in person.
At this month’s round of 16 matches in the Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Youth League – as well as the Women’s Champions League quarterfinals – a minute’s silence will be observed before kick-off to honour all victims of the pandemic.
More than words
Saying ‘Thank You’ will carry special meaning for players, officials and staff representing all of the teams taking part in the final stages of UEFA’s 2019/20 club competitions this month. In a reflection of football’s strong community ties, many clubs launched their own initiatives during local lockdowns to support hospitals, charities, schools and care homes.
Activities included raising funds to purchase life-saving medical equipment, delivering food to the elderly and vulnerable, and using football’s enormous reach to spread vital health messages.
“Football’s gratitude is not limited to words. This unprecedented period has taught us that football really can be an important vehicle for good,” said the UEFA president.
In addition to the ‘Thank You’ message on their shirts, the captains taking part in UEFA club competitions in August are expected to wear ‘No to Racism’ armbands as a reminder of UEFA and European football’s united opposition to any kind of discrimination, whether in sport or wider society.