UEFA & France’s Blaise Matuidi team up with ICRC to protect frontline health heroes!

UEFA will use the global visibility of football to help the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to raise awareness of the dangers faced by surgeons, nurses and health carers working on the frontlines of conflict.

France football legend, Blaise Matuidi, has also signed up to support the ICRC campaign, which highlights the growing need to protect health personnel based in areas of civil conflict. From 2016 to 2020, there were an estimated 3,780 attacks on these dedicated and skilled professionals in 33 countries. The campaign video depicts an alternative world, where people await the result of a life-saving operation with the same kind of tension reserved for football results – and health workers are revered as heroes.

In one scene, viewers celebrate a successful operation like fans greeting a last-minute winning goal.

Matuidi, who features at the end of the short film, decided to lend his support after witnessing first-hand the conditions in which doctors and nurses work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a country close to his heart.

“It is unfortunate that people who take care of us every day can be victims of violence, in the DRC or elsewhere,” said the 2018 World Cup winner. “Surgeons, stretcher-bearers, nurses, they should all have the same popular support as us footballers.”

“This campaign is taking us through surgery as we would follow a big game,” explained the campaign video’s director, Stéphane Barbato. “The surgeon replaces the footballer, from the warm-up to the handing over of a trophy. The role reversal, reinforced by Blaise Matuidi’s final intervention, makes us aware of the difference in treatment between footballers and health workers.”

Raising public awareness

The ICRC believes that the support provided by Matuidi, as well as its long-term social responsibility partner UEFA, will focus public attention on the need to improve security for health personnel working in conflict zones.

“Efforts to protect health personnel and structures are not enough. We need concrete action. We need stronger and better-applied laws, safe medical facilities and appropriate training,” said Maciej Polkowski, head of the ICRC’s Health Care at Risk initiative.

In one programme, the ICRC is partnering with local hospital administrators to reduce the number of weapons being taken into emergency departments. Within five months of implementing this new approach in one south Asian country, the number of weapons seized increased from two to 42 per month, significantly reducing the risks to patients and caregivers.

UEFA and the ICRC

The ICRC became UEFA’s first charity partner in 1997. Since then, European football’s governing body has donated approximately €3.5 million to support the ICRC’s mission to protect and assist victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence.

UEFA funding ensures the ICRC can:

  • provide physically disabled people with rehabilitation services
  • improve access to social inclusion activities, including sport, for physically disabled people.

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