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Barça and Manchester City are set play much more than just a match at Camp Nou on August 24 at 9.00pm CEST. This is a fundraiser for charity, an initiative by former goalkeeper and coach Juan Carlos Unzué, who was diagnosed with the incurable degenerative neurological condition ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) just over two years ago. Monday saw the official presentation of the game at the event held at Auditori 1899. FC Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, and Manchester City coach, Pep Guardiola, were both present, along with our colleague and friend, Juan Carlos Unzué, as a representative for people with ALS and Fundación Luzón, the organisation devoted to investigating the condition and the recipient of the funds collected from the game.
Tickets went on sale via the Club website (www.fcbarcelona.com) from Monday, with prices ranging from 19 euro for standard seats to 99 euro for VIP seats. Donations to Fundación Luzón can also be made through the website using Row 0.
The match between the sides coached by Xavi and Pep Guardiola promises to be a real sporting spectacle, and also sees the English team’s coach return to Camp Nou. However, the main aim is to help Juan Carlos Unzué with a cause true to his heart, making use of his profile to raise awareness about ALS, about how others with the condition are coping, and to put on events to raise funds. Unzué is working tirelessly towards these goals, and the game has been arranged thanks to the commitment to collaborate with this cause by President Laporta and coach Pep Guardiola.
Juan Carlos Unzué said “I hope we are all able to fill the Camp Nou. This has been made possible to the commitment and vow of two great clubs and the people who work at them. I felt so satisfied the day I sat down with them, from the first minute I got the feeling they were saying yes, they will help. Football is about commitment and friendship, that’s something you can’t pay for.”
Raising a record amount of funds is the target
The main target is to fill Camp Nou on August 24 and raise as many funds as possible for the fight against ALS. The game was originally scheduled for last year, but it was postponed due to the pandemic and attendance restrictions. Now with the restrictions lifted, there is no limit to the funds that can be raised to try to improve the quality of life of people with ALS and to foster research into finding a cure for this cruel degenerative condition.
Joan Laporta said “being more than a club means nothing if it doesn’t involve commitment to society, democracy, the country and globality. We have an extraordinary opportunity to send an image to the world.”
Josep Guardiola added that “this is an honour for us. We want to thank Barça for inviting us to this wonderful venue. We shall tell our players why this matters so much. It is admirable, and Unzue’s words show that. I am very happy to come. By doing this, FC Barcelona has once again shown why we are the best.”
A song for charity
The event on Monday also included a video for the song “Ara” that symbolises the fight against ALS. It was specifically written by producer, Jordi Cubino, and sung by Miki Núñez, and everyone at Camp Nou for the match will be able to hear it performed live. This song for charity was even a surprise to Unzué during the event, and all profits from playback are going to Fundació Catalana d’ELA Miquel Valls, the organisation that aims to improve the quality of life of people with ALS and strives to find a cure for this condition.
Proceeds from the game to go to Fundación Luzón
Francisco Luzón was diagnosed with ALS in 2014 and created Fundación Luzón to help find a cure for this terrible condition, bringing all relevant parties together. Francisco Luzón’s widow, María José Arregui, is the foundation’s executive president. The independent and not-for-profit organisation works to obtain funds for research and to improve the quality of lives of people with ALS and their families, alongside patient associations, investigators, and social and healthcare workers. Fundación Luzón works to raise awareness among society about ALS in order to raise the condition’s profile, shorten the time to diagnosis, improve medical treatment and the quality of social and medical care, and drive research into finding a cure.
FC Barcelona has also created a special scarf for the game, 100% of the proceeds from which will be going to the Luzón Foundation. It is on sale for €25 from early August as the six official Barça Stores (Camp Nou, Passeig de Gràcia, Canaletes, Aeroport T1 & T2 and La Roca Village) and also online via the club’s e-commerce outlets.
Disease with no cure
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - also known as Lou Gehring’s disease - is a neurodegenerative condition that affects the motor neurons in the brain, the brainstem, and the spinal cord - the cells responsible for transmitting the brain’s signals for voluntary muscle movement. It is an incurable condition and no treatments can stop the ALS degenerative process. Considered rare, only 450 people have the condition in Catalonia, with around 4,000 across Spain and around 350,000 worldwide, making it difficult to justify allocating funds for research and care programmes for improving quality of life and extending survival. People with the condition have a life expectancy of four to six years due to its rapid progression.
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