Futbol Club (FC) Barcelona, FC Barcelona Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation kicked off a three-year partnership today to energize the global fight to end polio and draw attention to the promise of life-saving vaccines. Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell and Manager Josep Guardiola, announced the partnership at the Newseum in Washington, DC. They were joined by players Andres Iniesta and Seydou Keita.
The first year of the partnership will focus on polio eradication. Polio has been reduced globally by 99 percent and is one of the best examples of the value of life-saving vaccines. The disease once crippled children worldwide, but there are now just four countries—Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan—where polio transmission has never been stopped.
“We have the chance to score a big win against polio, but we need loud and passionate voices to join the fight,” said Gates. “FC Barcelona’s commitment to using sport for social good will help us rally support for vaccines and end polio once and for all.”
FC Barcelona – with 18 million Facebook fans and multiple Twitter channels with millions of followers – will engage its followers through social media. In-stadium advertisements and announcements during matches will highlight the tremendous opportunity the world has to end polio and save millions of lives through childhood vaccination. Fans will be encouraged to join the team in the effort to eradicate only the second disease in history. The partnership will use the tagline “More than a Goal. End Polio,” a play on FC Barcelona’s tagline, “More than a Club.”