Success celebrated by '6 Villages for 2006'
The identity of the 2006 FIFA World Cup champions may only be known to us later this evening, but there has already been one big winner at Germany 2006 in the shape of SOS Children's Villages.
That is because, on this, the last day of the charity's joint campaign with FIFA - '6 villages for 2006' - the stated aim of raising 18 million Euros has already been met and indeed surpassed, and in the process, the world's attention drawn to the plight of its abandoned and neglected children.
Learn more about SOS Children's Villages and how to donate online
These funds will now be put to an extremely worthy use, namely the construction of six new SOS Children's Villages - one each in Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Ukraine and Vietnam - in an extension of the charity's excellent work that delights Federico Addiechi, FIFA's Head of Corporate Social Responsibility.
"Our goal was 18 million Euros," he told FIFAworldcup.com, "but the fact we are guaranteed to raise over 21 million is clearly a very good result. We're all delighted, and obviously a big thank you goes out to everyone who helped make this possible.
"The 6 Villages for 2006' campaign started at the end of 2003 and I can say without doubt that it is the most ambitious charitable initiative ever attached to a World Cup. Clearly, it is an excellent cause and, as well as raising money, I also hope and believe that we have increased awareness among those watching and taking part in the tournament."
At the moment, more than 59,000 children and youths are receiving care in a family environment at one of the 438 SOS Children's Villages and 346 SOS Youth Facilities spread worldwide over 132 countries and territories.
FIFA's association with the charity now stretches back over 11 years and, in the time since, over 60 of the world's most prominent footballers, including Andriy Shevchenko, Ruud van Nistelrooij and Fabio Cannavaro, have become FIFA for SOS Children's Villages' Ambassadors .
The 6 Villages for 2006' campaign, meanwhile, has been running since 2003, and Addiechi believes its overwhelming success provides evidence enough that FIFA's commitment to fulfilling its social responsibility remains firmer than ever.
"The campaign has been a big success in many respects," he said. "The first and most obvious is that our goals have been achieved and exceeded in monetary terms, so that's something everyone can be delighted and proud of. But I think this tournament has also strengthened FIFA's relations with SOS Children's Villages and proved to the world that we take our social responsibility very seriously indeed.
"The balance for FIFA is excellent, I think. It is only right that we use all our resources to support grass roots programmes for the good of the game, but we've also shown that we will use the platform of our main competition to promote positive messages and also raise funds for a very worthy cause. No-one can question that."
There is, in fact, still time to further boost this most worthy of causes by bidding in an online auction for a unique 2006 FIFA World Cup autograph book containing the signatures of all 736 players and head coaches of the 32 finalists. Bids can be submitted online until 23.59h tonight (9 July) and more details can be found on the SOS Children's Villages website.