By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai
Apart from bringing people the world over together to relax, soccer is fast becoming a vehicle for the advancement of charity.
Footballers are noted for donating parts of their earnings to charity (secretly and in the open) but what some of them are doing currently beats my imagination. Some footballers have proved to be selfless by showing concern and sympathy for the needy.
The superstars belonging to Germany and Argentina the finalists in the 2014 Brazil word cup fiesta have chosen to engage in charitable activities that are commendable and worth emulating.
The World Cup may be over for Germany and Argentina, but players on both teams are putting their cash winnings to good use by donating them to worthy causes.
According to the UK-based express 25-year-old German football star Mesut Ozil has donated his World Cup prize money â€“ totaling more than $400,000 for winning the tournament â€“ to various charity projects in Brazil. The hefty sum is reportedly going to fund surgeries for 23 Brazilian children
Ozil made the announcement official on his Facebook page, where he wrote the following:
â€œDear fans, prior to the World Cup I supported the surgery of eleven sick children. Since the victory of the World Cup is not only due to eleven players but to our whole team, I will now raise the number to 23. This is my personal thank-you for the hospitality of the people of Brazil.â€
The announcement comes after reports initially stated Ozil would be donating his winnings to the children of Gaza, a claim that was ultimately denied by the soccer playerâ€™s representative Roland Eitel.
â€œThe claim that Mesut donated money to Gaza is not true,â€ Eitel told express. â€œMaybe in the future, who knows? He donated money to causes in Brazil and he is now on holiday.â€
Argentina wonâ€™t be left out of the donation game, either. It was reported that the Argentinean squad has decided to donate nearly $110,000 of their winnings to a hospital in Buenos Aires, specifically its pediatric cancer center. The team as a whole was awarded a total of almost $20 million for coming in second place to Germany.
The idea was apparently suggested by Argentinaâ€™s Javier Mascherano, with the final donation going through Lionel Messiâ€™s charity foundation.
This is not all there is about donations by soccer stars in Brazil. Ghanaâ€™s midfielder Suley Muntary who is noted for giving to charity in Ghana and elsewhere also made his presence felt in Brazil by donating to charity.
He got out of his way to donate cash to some Brazilian poor and needy including the aged and children. The beneficiaries were so excited that it resulted in a mad rush by more people for the cash which resulted in the police to stop him from donating more cash.
Apart from Sulley Muntari the entire Algerian team which was knocked out in the round of 16 also decided to donate their earnings to the suffering people of Gaza strip in Palestine.
According to the Algeria forward, Islam Slimani â€˜the suffering people of Gaza need the cash we have earned more than ourselvesâ€™ and revealed further that he and his team-mates are donating their money to the people in Gaza.
The North African side won the hearts and minds of many with their heroic effort in pushing Germany to extra-time in their round of 16 World Cup clash.
Long before these donations many soccer stars such as Sheyie Adebayo of Togo national team and many other stars from Ghana and Africa have made and continue to make donations to the poor and needy in the past. However the quantum of money donated by the Germans Algerians and the Argentineans is mind boggling.
The Algerians Germans, Algerians and Sulley Muntari are not the only soccer stars who got paid during continental and world cup tournaments. Many of the soccer stars especially from Africa have made fortunes for participating in the 2014 World Cup matches in Brazil.
Apart from the Algerians the 23 teams each from Nigeria, Ghana, Cote dâ€™Ivoire and Cameroon, were paid hefty sums in foreign currencies. Almost all the teams had to harass their governments to cough out cash to them. The advice I wish to give to all the team members is to put the monies they got to good use.
They should by all means take good care of their parents and family members. However they must look round to donate part of the money to the needy in childrenâ€™s homes, hospitals and homes for the handicapped.
There are some of the soccer stars who make donations without fanfares. That is alright, however they must also donate to those in the lower ladder of society.