Sunderland AFC is joining up with the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa to promote the former President's legacy and to raise awareness of social issues such as diversity in football's efforts to stop racism from within the game.
The club will be a Legacy Advocate for the foundation and is supporting a number of fundraising initiatives over the next 18 months, including a Gala dinner and designating the forthcoming match against Manchester United on March 20th as 'Nelson Mandela Day'.
*Margaret Byrne, CEO of Sunderland AFC, said: *
“It is a huge honour for Sunderland AFC to have been selected by the Nelson Mandela Foundation as a Legacy Advocate.
"Our football club prides itself on using its influence wherever it can to strengthen communities and improve lives, whether locally in our own region or on a global platform.
“This is also a fantastic opportunity for us to extend the work we have already begun in Africa.
We hope that through our association with such a renowned organisation as the Nelson Mandela Foundation we can promote the positive aspects of football around the world, whilst exploring how we can work together on the issue of eradicating racism not just from within football but society as a whole”
*Achmat Dangor, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, said: *
“We strive to live up to Nelson Mandela’s ethos of inclusivity and reconciliation. We therefore need to secure the Centre’s financial independence.
"We are delighted that Sunderland AFC is joining us on this journey and we are sure that with this club’s stature and history our efforts will get a great boost.”
***Sunderland AFC’s Vice Chairman, David Miliband, added: *
“There is no more iconic figure in the world today than Nelson Mandela. His values of equality, justice and reconciliation are the inspiration to millions and this partnership is a wonderful symbol for Sunderland in Africa and a huge honour for our football club.
“As a club which prides itself on its commitment to charitable work, to the community as a whole through our own Foundation of Light, and to the pursuit of excellence in all we do, we see tremendous potential in working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
"The club’s own Foundation has already provided a wonderful platform on which we can build and develop community engagement both in our own region ... and by partnering with such an iconic organisation we aim to harness expertise and share knowledge, which will be hugely beneficial to us all.”