Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2023, broadcast live and exclusively on ITV1, STV and ITVX last week from Old Trafford, Manchester, has raised £14.6 million for UNICEF’s vital work giving children around the world the happy, healthy, play-filled childhoods they are entitled to.
Thanks to the generous support of the UK public, UNICEF UK supporters, ITV1, STV and ITVX viewers, this year’s amount brings the current total raised to date, since Soccer Aid for UNICEF was founded by UNICEF UK Ambassador Robbie Williams in 2006, to over £90 million for children worldwide.
The hotly anticipated match took place at the sold-out Old Trafford stadium in Manchester – welcoming back over 63,000 fans to the same venue that hosted the very first Soccer Aid for UNICEF match in 2006. The match ended 4-2 to Soccer Aid World XI, with the team keeping the overall lead with 7-5 wins since the inaugural 2006 match.
UNICEF UK Ambassador, Tom Hiddleston, addressed the stadium crowd and the viewers at home with a special half time speech, galvanising donations to UNICEF. He was joined by Tom Grennan who captivated the crowd performing hit song, ‘Here’.
It was another enthralling contest between England and the Soccer Aid World XI FC, with the charity match’s first female captain, Lioness Jill Scott for England and Usain Bolt returning to captain the Soccer Aid World XI FC after he famously handed his captaincy to Ukrainian football legend, Andriy Shevchenko during last year’s match.
Stormzy made his Soccer Aid for UNICEF debut as England co-manager alongside Harry Redknapp and Emma Hayes, and with Robbie Williams, Vicky McClure, David Seaman and Zavon Hines making up the coaching team. They were up against the star-studded Soccer Aid World XI FC management team made up of football manager Mauricio Pochettino and Martin Compston, with Daniel Bachmann, Jesus Perez, Robbie Keane and Sporty Spice Melanie C as coaches.
Usain Bolt scored the opening goal, marking a special moment for the Olympian and Manchester United fan in his fifth Soccer Aid for UNICEF appearance, with the first half ending on 1-0. England turned up the tempo in the second half, with Asa Butterfield scoring the equalizer with his first touch. Paul Scholes put the Three Lions ahead by scoring a second goal just minutes later, before going off injured as he received a standing ovation at his old stomping ground, Old Trafford.
In spite of England’s best efforts to turn the game around, World XI’s Robbie Keane scored two goals minutes after coming on. Shortly after, teammate Kem Cetinay scored his fifth goal, making him the all-time top scorer in Soccer Aid history, ending the game on 4-2 – and a fifth consecutive win for World XI.
As the only official FA sanctioned mixed gender match, Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2023 saw more female celebrity players taking part than ever before. Skippered by Lioness and Euro 2022 Winner Jill Scott, Eni Aluko returned for England, and Heather O’Reilly returned for the Soccer Aid World XI FC, whilst ex-professional footballers Karen Carney, Kaylyn Kyle, Izzy Christiansen and celebrity players Scarlette Douglas and Maisie Adam made their debuts. In a Soccer Aid for UNICEF first, the match officials for the game featured an all-female line up, with Abi Byrne as referee, Georgia Ball and Nicoleta Bria as assistants and Jane Simms as the 4th official.
Making up the rest of the star-studded squads were new and returning players Sir Mo Farah, Paddy McGuiness, Alex Brooker, Lee Mack, Liam Payne, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Grennan, Steven Bartlett, Mo Gilligan, Sam Claflin, Danny Dyer, Chunkz, Bugzy Malone, Joel Corry, Asa Butterfield, Leon Edwards, Kem Cetinay, Noah Beck, Niko Omilana and Tommy Fury. They were joined by football legends David James, Gary Neville, Gary Cahill, Paul Scholes, Jack Wilshere, Jermain Defoe, Ben Foster, Patrice Evra, Roberto Carlos, Francesco Totti, Nani and Hernan Crespo.
The show was once again presented by UNICEF UK Ambassador, Dermot O'Leary, and UNICEF UK High Profile Supporter, Alex Scott. Jermaine Jenas was back in the pundit seat, joined by former Soccer Aid for UNICEF player, Big Zuu and former Lioness captain Steph Houghton. Jermaine Jenas is also the co-host of Soccer Aid: Extra Time alongside Joelah Noble which, for the first time, is being broadcast straight after the match on ITV4 and ITVX.
Returning to the beautiful game tonight’s commentators were Sam Matterface and former Soccer Aid World XI FC player and the infamous voice of ITV’s Love Island, Iain Stirling. The Appreciation Station also returned to the stadium this year with famous faces including UNICEF UK Ambassador Cat Deeley and UNICEF UK High Profile Supporter Cel Spellman, who all gave thanks to generous viewers making donations throughout the night.
Throughout the ITV show, short appeal films presented by UNICEF UK President and Ambassador Olivia Colman, UNICEF UK High Profile Supporter Martin Compston and supporters Alex Brooker, Suranne Jones, Lennie James and Indira Varma highlighted where the vital money raised by Soccer Aid for UNICEF goes. Martin Compston’s half-time film focused on his trip to Bangladesh where he saw how UNICEF is helping unaccompanied children living on the streets. He visited a UNICEF-supported child protection hub which provides a safe space for children to sleep, eat, learn and most important of all – play.
The money raised through Soccer Aid for UNICEF could help UNICEF fight malnutrition, keep children safe in times of crisis, and get them back to school, ensuring every child has a chance to play. It could also help provide vaccines against preventable diseases such as polio, so all children can grow up happy, healthy and with play-filled childhoods, just as they deserve.
Tom Hiddleston, UNICEF UK Ambassador said: “It has been an absolute privilege to play in my very first Soccer Aid for UNICEF tonight, alongside a brilliant team, against a fierce opposition and in front of an incredibly generous crowd. To raise £14.6 million is truly life-changing and will make such a difference to children that need it most, all over the world. So, it’s a huge thank you to everyone who has watched, cheered and donated. Together we really are making sure children can play and have the happy childhoods they deserve.”
Robbie Williams, Soccer Aid for UNICEF co-founder and UNICEF UK Ambassador said: “It’s been another incredible year with a star-studded line up taking to the pitch all in the name of raising as much money as we can for children around the world. Since 2006, we have been so proud to put this event on and I’m so grateful to everyone who has laced up their boots and especially to those of you who have donated. Your money will help UNICEF ensure many children get the best start in life and the chance to simply be kids and play!”
Jon Sparkes OBE, Chief Executive at the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), said: “Congratulations to World XI for their spectacular win this evening! Each year it feels like this beautiful game gets bigger and better. It was such an exciting watch to see England take on Soccer Aid World XI and topped off by raising an incredible £14.6 million which will help children worldwide have the childhoods they are entitled to. Thank you to everyone watching at home and live in the stadium for their support – there’s still time to donate so we can help even more children, so please do continue to give what you can!”
Katie Rawcliffe, ITV’s Head of Entertainment Commissioning, said: “ITV is incredibly grateful to everyone that tuned in to watch tonight’s show and those who donated – raising vital funds to support UNICEF’s work helping children that really need it. I’d also like to thank everyone who generously gave up their time to take part in what is always such an extraordinary event.”
Soccer Aid for UNICEF was broadcast live on ITV1, STV and ITVX, and is produced by Initial.
To find out more visit socceraid.org.uk, where donation lines are open until midday on Tuesday 11 July 2023.