Former Barcelona and Brazil striker Ronaldinho has spoken of his pride in becoming an ambassador for London charity Football for Peace (FFP).
Speaking to The Drum, Ronaldinho, who has previously served blue chip brands such as Coca-cola, Nike and Lenovo as a face for each, talked about his new role while attending the unveiling of a portrait featuring him in London last week.
Ronaldinho described being an ambassador for FfP as 'an honour' while speaking to The Drum.
He said: "I am very proud to be here as a brand ambassador for FfP. In my life I never thought I would be honoured in such a way. Words are not enough to describe how I feel to be part of this project - to me, its not even a project - its a legacy.
“I am honoured to receive the art piece which will make a difference to many children facing marginalisation in London. It is great to be involved in a movement which contributes to peace by uniting, educating and promoting friendships between people”.
FfP, which is backed by the United Nations, introduced a ‘City For Peace’ Young Ambassador Programme partnering four professional clubs across London with the aim to unite people and communities through football.
The initiative is also backed by British Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and aims to train young people to become Peace Ambassadors, teaching them about equality, diversity and leadership and giving them the tools to use football to unite and engage over 1500 youth across London in two years.
British artist Lincoln Townley was commissioned to create portraits of Brazilian footballers Pele and Ronaldinho to celebrate global peace. The charity through portraits aimed to raise hundreds of thousand of pounds through auction to help fund their projects. Ronaldinho's portrait was ultimately sold for £90,000 at the auction held at the ball organised by FfP.
The Drum also spoke with Townley to find out why FfP is important and why did he donate such a stunning piece of art.
Townley said: "I was commissioned to put together one of my icon portraits. In this case it was Ronaldinho, a huge football icon. I think that its very important for a charity to have high communication levels. Auctioned for money, but more than that, awareness with Ronaldinho behind an image which depicts him as an icon."
Tracey Crouch said: “We must commend the incredible work FfP have undertaken, it is in line with the governments strategy and we are fully supportive of the initiative in using football diplomacy in bringing communities together both in the UK and globally"
Kashif Siddiqi, co-founder of FfP said: “Through the unspoken and universal language of Football we transcend boundaries, religions and cultural differences. Our mission is to use the beautiful game to create greater understanding amongst communities. The London Ball and programme is gaining support from leaders in football and diplomatic space, helping the movement speak to an audience which can help our delivery in the areas needed."
Words by Stephen Lepitak & Taruka Srivastav