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Ronaldo makes poverty-eradication his goal

The Brazilian soccer star, Ronaldo, is to spearhead the United Nations' struggle against poverty as a goodwill ambassador. The Inter Milan striker kicked off his new part-time career before 1000 screaming schoolchildren in Geneva.

This content was published on February 1, 2000 - 21:01

Ronaldo, the Brazilian soccer star, is to spearhead the United Nations' struggle against poverty as a goodwill ambassador. The 23 year-old Inter Milan striker kicked off his new part-time career before more than 1000 screaming school children at the UN in Geneva.

The UN Development Programme aims to use leading figures from the entertainment, sporting and cultural world to generate public concern about the plight of more than three billion people who live in poverty. About one-third of the world's poor are thought to live on less than one dollar a day.

Mark Malloch-Brown, the UNDP's chief executive, wants to reverse the decline in western aid to developing countries. He believes the "Teams to End Poverty" campaign can be very effective.

"What will bring governments back to contributing to development is a recognition that this is something that children and their parents care about," he said, "because in the end government spending priorities are determined by public opinion and for a long time development has been in the doldrums because it's not had much public support."

Ronaldo - who is out of action because of a thigh injury - told journalists in Geneva that he wanted to use his fame to help alleviate the kind of hardship he experienced first-hand as a child in a poor neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.

"It isn't the poor who are going to change the world. We need to try and mobilise people who have the financial means, and so help to end poverty," the Brazilian striker said.

Ronaldo's first steps in the humanitarian world came with the international campaign against AIDS in 1998. During a visit to Kosovo last year with the UNDP, he made a donation to purchase materials for a school damaged by the fighting in the province. Now he says he will return there in his new role, and is ready to help organise an all-star international soccer match to raise awareness.

By Peter Capella

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