Jose Mourinho has been appointed as an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
Mourinho will use his status to raise awareness about WFP’s life-saving work and champion the Zero Hunger Challenge, which aims to eliminate hunger in our lifetimes, and has said he will visit Africa over the summer to lend his support to the campaign.
‘Supporting the work of the World Food Programme on the frontlines of hunger is a personal decision about a cause that is very close to the hearts of me and my family,’ the Chelsea manager said.
‘I have a big passion for football but I have a big passion for everything I do. If I don’t have it, I don’t do it, it’s simple. So to accept this opportunity I do it not just with pride but also with passion.
‘I am going immediately where the problems are, where the kids with hunger are. I am not going to be a man of press conferences; I want to be a man of the field. During my holiday period I am going to Africa and I hope I do my part well.’
The Portuguese joins a list of international celebrities and athletes including Drew Barrymore, Christina Aguilera and Kaka.
WFP deputy executive director, and COO, Amir Abdulla, who presented Mourinho with his own WFP vest, said: ‘Jose Mourinho has achieved almost every success at the top of the game of football and we are delighted that he is now taking on a new challenge to help us reach Zero Hunger.
‘We need strong, respected and committed partners to help us eliminate hunger in our lifetimes and I have no doubt Jose will deliver in his role as a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger.
‘He is somebody who is well known, highly respected in his profession, he has status and he has pulling power. He can help us deliver a really important message. His passion for the game will be translated into his passion for helping us.’
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, last year reaching more than 97 million people with food assistance in 80 countries. It remains a fact that 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and poor nutrition causes nearly half of all deaths among children aged under five. It is estimated that a child dies every seven seconds due to a nutrition-related illness.
Mourinho, speaking in central London, admitted he is eager to learn more about the organisation and the ways in which he can help.
‘I [feel like] a naïve manager getting a job for the first time,’ he smiled. ‘Full of desire, eager and humble to learn and support, but I am so naïve that I need them. I am not in condition to be the one to give advice, to lead the process, I am just one that wants to cooperate with them and wants to learn from them. I give with my heart, like with everything I did in my life, and that’s what I can give.
‘We are nobody compared with so many people in this world doing more important things than we do.
‘Football also has numbers difficult to accept, when we speak about our salaries, transfer fees, club budgets, I understand that. But I also believe in football because football in many, many, many cases shows solidarity. It is not the first or last time that football is supporting human causes.’
It was clear Mourinho is delighted to be on board with the WFP, and addressing Abdulla directly, he said: ‘This is absolutely incredible. The planes you have in the air, the ships you have in the sea, the trucks you have on the road and the people that volunteer are absolutely amazing.
‘What can I do? I can be one of them. I will be proudly one of them. It means a lot. We have to use the power football has socially, so if I can use that power football gives us, it is very important.’
Mourinho also visited Africa as part of a Chelsea humanitarian trip when he joined Michael Essien and our global charity partners Right To Play in Ghana in 2007.
You can find out more about the WFP by following @WFP_media on Twitter.