James Arthur, Tom Grennan, Fara Williams, Micah Richards, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes were today announced as taking part in Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2021 – the first time they have been part of the world’s biggest celebrity-charity football match.
They will be joined by Wayne Rooney who is coming out of retirement to play for England again. The Three Lions’ all-time record goal scorer managed the England side in 2020 but is once again taking to the pitch as a player.
Dermot O’Leary returns to host the live show on ITV, with England legend Alex Scott charged with getting all the gossip from the touch-line, as she makes her Soccer Aid for UNICEF presenting debut alongside him.
The England vs. Soccer Aid World XI FC clash is the tenth-ever. A family of four can attend the anniversary game for £60. This year, for the very first time, the match takes place on a Saturday (4th September) and will be played at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium – also a first.
The line-up is further strengthened by a number of football stars including: Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Kelly Smith, Roberto Carlos, Patrice Evra, David James, Ashley Cole, Emile Heskey and Jamie Redknapp. Harry Redknapp returns as Manager of the Soccer Aid World XI FC, while Micah Richards joins the England coaching team with David Seaman as goalkeeping coach.
Alex Scott said: “I’m so excited for this! I’ve wanted to be involved in Soccer Aid for UNICEF for many years, so I am delighted to be part of it now as pitch-side reporter. For years I’ve watched the games and it’s something that I know loads of people look forward to. It’ll be great to be back in a stadium with fans again – and all for such a great cause. With so many great names already signed-up – and many more to come – there’s no excuse not to get your tickets now!”
Gary Neville said: “Just when I thought my days of being booed by City fans had passed! I’m hoping that my hamstrings hold out for more than five minutes, to be honest. Also, I need to get through the next few months without Micah Richards sounding-off in my ear too much! All joking aside, we’re all playing for a hugely important cause – UNICEF. Their work is as important now as it has ever been, so please buy a ticket and come along – it will be great fun.”
Micah Richards said: “Usain Bolt running at Gary Neville? Rooney out of retirement? Me making my coaching debut. What more do you want?! This is going to be so good! I can’t wait to see all the lads run out at The Etihad for such a great cause. The line-up is looking really strong and let me tell you – there are even more surprises to come!”
Wayne Rooney said: “Pulling on an England shirt is always special, so I’m absolutely delighted to be doing that again in Soccer Aid for UNICEF this September. Managing the England team last year was great but being around the players made me want to lace up the boots again – now I’ve got that chance, one last time. Soccer Aid for UNICEF has been a massive force for good since it started back in 2006 and I know the public will support us again this year by purchasing tickets, which are now on sale.”
UNICEF UK Ambassador and Soccer Aid for UNICEF Presenter, Dermot O’Leary, said: "The game is going to be incredible this year. We’ve got a massive line-up, and we’re back-off-up-to-Manchester, albeit at a shiny new stadium, with some shiny new players to match! Whoever you support, England or the Soccer Aid World XI FC, it’s going to be one hell of a night at the Etihad Stadium. The money we raise really will make a huge difference to children’s lives everywhere.
“I’ve been so lucky to see some of the work made possible by Soccer Aid for UNICEF over the years. Having recently become a UNICEF UK Ambassador myself, I know how much your money and your support can help children in really tough situations be able to just be children again. Getting through this last year or so has been tough for all of us, but the Covid crisis is making life for children in the world’s poorest countries even harder. So, let’s bring play back!”
Katie Rawcliffe, Head of Entertainment Commissioning at ITV, said: “We at ITV are proud to be broadcasting the world’s biggest charity football match to help raise money and awareness for UNICEF to do their vital work for children around the globe, especially at this difficult time. To kick it all off, and to celebrate the 10th Soccer Aid for UNICEF, this year there will also be some brilliant new programming for our viewers that we are really excited about in the lead up to the big match.”
Danny Wilson, Managing Director of Operations at Manchester City, said: “We are delighted to be hosting Soccer Aid for UNICEF at the Etihad Stadium for the very first time. Soccer Aid is recognised as the world’s biggest charity football match and has made a significant contribution to UNICEF’s charitable programmes since it was founded. We are proud to be playing our part to support an event with such a good cause and we look forward to an exciting matchday with a fantastic line-up of players on each team.”
Since 2006 – when UNICEF UK Ambassador Robbie Williams co-founded the concept – Soccer Aid for UNICEF has raised over £47m to help give children all over the world a childhood full of play. As many countries celebrate coming out of lockdown, the Covid-19 crisis is still making life for many vulnerable children even tougher. Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2020, at Old Trafford, raised a record breaking £9.3m.
This year, Soccer Aid for UNICEF is bringing play back. The money raised from this year’s game could help UNICEF deliver 2 billion Covid-19 vaccines to frontline healthcare workers, social workers and teachers around the world – the people children rely on – and help children get back to school, beat malnutrition, and get the healthcare they need today and long after the crisis is over. It’s us against Covid for every child, everywhere.
The Soccer Aid for UNICEF excitement does not stop with the football. This year there will be a full Soccer Aid for UNICEF week across ITV and STV in the lead up to the match, featuring new shows, special takeovers and great prizes to be won. With its biggest-ever goal of going up against Covid for children, everywhere, Soccer Aid for UNICEF has never been bigger. Further announcements will be made across ITV, STV and Soccer Aid for UNICEF social media channels.
Soccer Aid for UNICEF is delighted to welcome back our returning principal partners Primark, JD and PUMA with more details on these exciting partnerships to follow.
Tickets for the game are on sale now via www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets with a family of four able to attend for £60 – two adults and two children.