An online auction of a book featuring the autographs of all 736 players and coaches from this summer's tournament has raised Euro 61,500 for the official 2006 FIFA World Cup™ charity "6 villages for 2006".
The joint initiative by SOS Children's Villages and FIFA has gathered a total of Euro 20 million, enabling six new villages to be built and run over many years to come and providing homes for more than 800 children in need.
The autographs were collected by the Organising Committee immediately after the arrival of the 32 teams, with all the players and coaches having been more than happy to sign the book. "I am delighted that we were able to play our part. The new owner of the autograph book will have a unique memento of Germany 2006," said Wolfgang Niersbach, vice-president of the Organising Committee. The auction was won by a football fan from Cologne.
Georg Willeit, Director of SOS Children's Villages worldwide, thanked the players, bidders and the Organising Committee: "This is the perfect end to an unforgettable festival of football this summer. I would like to thank everyone involved on behalf of the children who will benefit from the money raised." New villages will be constructed in Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and the Ukraine. The first families have already moved into the new SOS Children's Village in Dong Hoi (Vietnam)
"This is without doubt the most precious fan book of all time. We have to thank all of the players and coaches, and not least the local organising committee, sincerely for their support. This is a true sign of fair play and solidarity. I hope that the final bid will reflect the goodwill value of this unique memento," announced FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
The 32 pages of some of the most sought after autographs, including Ronaldinho, Beckham, Totti, Riquelme, Drogba, Shevchenko, Scolari, and Essien, will be bound in leather for the winning bidder.
"Players see all kinds of hardship during their travels around the world. But it is children who suffer the most. The most precious gift we can give to these children is a home and a good education. SOS Children's Villages do wonderful work for such children," declared LOC Chairman Franz Beckenbauer, who officially presented the unique collectors' item at half-time during the World Cup match between Sweden and Paraguay (1-0).