Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2020 has, thanks to the generosity of ITV viewers, raised a record £11,552,577 – 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 6th 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.