Three African countries – Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal – have been selected to benefit from the Western Union New Education initiative that aims to turn every successful pass in this season’s UEFA  competition into funding the education of young people around the world. The project will commence during the Group Stage of the UEFA Europa League Season 2012/13, which kicks off on September 20 across Europe.

The initiative, tagged PASS, will  provide teacher training and student scholarships through nonprofit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with an initial focus on eleven countries – Brazil, China, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Romania, Russia and Turkey. It aims to reach one million school days over the next three seasons and builds on the work the company has already done to support education globally.

Proceeds from the initiative will be allocated and distributed based on the educational needs and costs of each identified market. This initiative will run for the three years of Western Union’s sponsorship of the UEFA Europa League until 2015.

The project which was launched by Global payment services and new Global Partner of the UEFA Europa League, The Western Union Company and the Western Union Foundation will be fronted by former international football star Patrick Vieira.

“Where I come from, opportunities for a quality education are rare,” explained Vieira the former AS Cannes, AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Juventus, FC Internazionale Milano, Manchester City FC and French international player, who was born in Senegal before moving to France at the age of 8, and is currently football development executive at Manchester City FC.

“Football was my ticket to success, but for the vast majority of young people education is the key that allows them to become whatever they want to be. That’s why I’m supporting this campaign. It will benefit students, teachers and schools across the world, particularly in places that need it most, like Senegal where I was born,” said Vieira.

“Through PASS, we intend to harness the power of football to build awareness of this challenge as well as deliver on-the-ground support that will make a difference to young people and their communities,” said Hikmet Ersek, Western Union President and CEO.

David Taylor, CEO of UEFA Events S.A. also stated that the Western Union’s PASS initiative will allow players give something back to their hometown communities beyond simply the excitement and entertainment they create on the pitch.”

UEFA Europa League’s global audience, football fans from Africa, the Americas, Asia as well as Europe, will also be given the chance to add to the fund during the season through a range of online and social media mechanics.


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