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Soccer Aid for Unicef on ITV raises record breaking £9.3 million


  • 2020’s huge total brings the total amount raised since 2006 to nearly £50m
  • Soccer Aid World XI FC beat England on penalties after the match finished 1-1
  • Money raised will help stop the spread of coronavirus and limit the impact on children’s lives

Manchester, Sunday 6 September – Soccer Aid for Unicef 2020 has, thanks to the generosity of ITV viewers, raised a record £9.3m – the most the match has ever raised in the history of the show, which was broadcast exclusively live on ITV and STV.

For the first time in the match’s history, donations were matched by both the UK government and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, meaning every £1 donated becomes £3 – up to £3 million – until Tuesday 6 October 2020.

This year’s teams of celebrities and former professional footballers played for ‘Generation Covid’, and the money raised will help Unicef stop the spread of coronavirus and limit the impact on children’s lives around the world.

The match, which was played behind-closed-doors at Manchester United FC’s Old Trafford, ended 1-1 and so went to penalties. The game marked a return to the North West following last year’s game at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge. 

It was another enthralling contest between England, led by Olly Murs and the Soccer Aid World XI FC, captained by Mo Gilligan. England, co-managed by Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney and Sam Allardyce were up against Soccer Aid for Unicef stalwart Harry Redknapp and another former United and England star Bryan Robson.

After a close opening 45 minutes, the deadlock was broken early in the second half when Jeremy Lynch found Robbie Keane on the edge of the area. The Republic of Ireland’s all-time leading scorer curled a sublime effort in off the post to put his side one-nil up. England hit back quickly though. James Bay showed brilliant vision to pick out Yung Filly who controlled the cross before scoring past Ore Oduba. With the sides unable to be separated at the end of ninety minutes, the match went to a penalty shootout for the third year running with the Soccer Aid World XI FC eventually winning for the second consecutive year.

Presenter Chelcee Grimes became the first female celebrity to star in Soccer Aid for Unicef. Following the introduction of former professional female players to the game in 2019 Kelly Smith MBE, Lianne Sanderson and Julie Fleeting made their Soccer Aid for Unicef debuts, whilst Katie Chapman returned for the England side.

Former professional footballers including Patrice Evra, David James, Ashley Cole were joined by stars from the entertainment world including comedians Lee Mack, Paddy McGuinness, Mo Gilligan and musicians Serge Pizzorno, Santan Dave and James Bay.

The show on ITV, which is produced by Initial, was presented by Dermot O’Leary with Kirsty Gallacher providing updates pitch-side during the match. Guest pundits included Alex Scott, Maya Jama and Omid Djalili.

During the live show, viewers saw how their money has made, and will continue to make, a difference to vulnerable children’s lives with films from around the world and the UK fronted by Soccer Aid for Unicef supporters Maya Jama, Nina Sosanya, Jade Thirlwall and Bradley and Barney Walsh, Unicef UK High Profile Supporter David Harewood and Unicef UK Ambassadors, James Nesbitt and Robbie Williams.

Unicef UK ambassador and pop legend Robbie Williams teamed up with four-piece British glam rock outfit The Struts, for an exclusive half-time performance of their brand-new single, ‘Strange Days’.

Soccer Aid World XI FC Manager, Harry Redknapp, said: “What a fantastic night! I’m so proud to have been involved in another fantastic Soccer Aid for Unicef and to have raised a record breaking amount of money. We missed the fans in the stadium but hopefully everyone watching at home enjoyed the show. There were plenty of moments to remember on the pitch and we’re all delighted to have, once again, been part of something very special.”

Unicef UK Executive Director Sacha Deshmukh said: “Coronavirus is the biggest global crisis for vulnerable children and families since the Second World War. A whole generation is at risk and we need the public’s support now more than ever to help stop the spread of coronavirus and limit the impact on children’s lives.

“This year, Soccer Aid for Unicef took place in unprecedented circumstances, but I am extremely proud of what we have achieved, and I am grateful to everyone that has made this year’s game possible and everyone who joined us watching from home. Football has the power to unite people and change lives, and Soccer Aid for Unicef is testament to that. Thank you so much for your support.”

Minister for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Baroness Sugg said: “The real winners from Sunday’s match will be the vulnerable children and families around the world who will receive crucial support from Unicef, thanks to the public’s generous support for Soccer Aid.

“The UK government is immensely proud to be playing its part by matching, pound for pound, all donations from the British public to this year’s event. We are fully committed to helping the world’s poorest people.”

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance said: “Congratulations to all involved – the players and the organisers – for making this year’s Soccer Aid for UNICEF such a success, despite the trying times.

“We’re delighted to match donations from the great British public, ensuring every pound donated makes even more of a difference protecting children from deadly diseases through routine immunisation, which has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. These vital funds will also help ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide, giving us our best shot at ending the acute phase of this pandemic.”

Kevin Lygo, Director of Television, ITV said: “All of us at ITV are delighted to have been involved in making tonight's Soccer Aid for Unicef event happen under such challenging circumstances. The phenomenal donations made by ITV viewers have helped to raise the biggest on air totaliser in Soccer Aid history to assist Unicef in their vital work, helping children around the globe. We'd like to thank all of the amazing talent for giving up their time for such a worthy cause and all the team involved in putting this programme together at this time.”

The 2020 match had been originally scheduled for Sunday 6th June. However, in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, and for the health and safety of all involved, a decision was taken to postpone the game until it was safe to reconvene.  The game’s resumption happened in line with UK government advice and stringent health and safety protocols, which has been overseen by Prenetics – the same testing company being used by professional football.

Coronavirus is the biggest global crisis for vulnerable children and families since the Second World War. Every day for the next six months, 6,000 more children could die as coronavirus pushes national health systems to breaking point. A whole generation of children is at risk. Children around the world need the public’s support now more than ever, so Soccer Aid for Unicef pulled out all the stops to ensure the match could go ahead.

Since 2006, Soccer Aid for Unicef has raised over £49m to help give children all over the world a childhood full of play. The match was the brainchild of pop megastar and Unicef UK Ambassador Robbie Williams.


Notes to editors 

About Soccer Aid Productions Limited

The multi-stakeholder project of Soccer Aid for Unicef is run by Soccer Aid Productions, a collaboration between Unicef UK and Triple S Events which is part of the Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group.

About ITV:

ITV entertains millions of people and shapes culture. We are a leading media and entertainment company, with the largest commercial television network in the UK and a global production and distribution business, with over 55 labels. Creativity, quality content and engaging audiences in the UK and around the world, is at the core of everything we do.

We reach over 40 million viewers every week with our programmes on ITV's family of channels, as well as the ITV Hub, which is available on 28 platforms and on over 90% of connected televisions sold in the UK. 

ITV Studios produced 8,400 hours of original programming last year. Our global footprint spans 13 countries including the UK, US, Australia, France, Germany, The Nordics, Italy and the Netherlands and our global distribution business sells our catalogue of 45,000+ hours to more than 300 broadcasters and platforms.

ITV as part of its More than TV strategy, has created a scaled Direct to Consumer business in the UK, including recently surpassing 500,000 subscribers to its ad-free catch-up service, Hub+. In November 2019 ITV launched BritBox, a streaming service with the BBC bringing the very best in past, present and future British programming and award-winning content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to viewers all in one place.

As the media landscape continues to change rapidly, ITV is focused on building upon its unique combination of creativity and commercial strength, transforming digitally to create a more diversified and structurally sound business.

About Initial

Initial is one of the UK’s leading entertainment content creators and producers. Part of Banijay UK, Initial is behind hit shows such as Big Brother, Tenable and Total Wipeout. Initial has been the producer of Soccer Aid since its inception in 2006.

About UNICEF    
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

 Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.