Culture

Change the World with Sports

Germany and Arsenal Football Star Mesut Özil Announced as Newest Laureus Ambassador

June 20th, 2016
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Laureus is a global sports-based charity program that aims to improve the lives of young people worlwide through sport as a form of cultural diplomacy. The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela.

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair”. With these sentences, Nelson Mandela inaugurated the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000 in Monte Carlo.

On June 8th 2016, just before the start of the European Championship in France, Germany and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil was announced as the latest Laureus Sport for Good Ambassador. The award does not focus only on the career achievements of the world’s greatest athletes, but mainly on their significant role on the grass-roots work carried out by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Laureus Ambassadors are current or retired sportsmen and sportswomen who have achieved sporting greatness or made significant contributions to the sporting community during their lives.

Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €60 million for more than 150 projects in 35 countries, improving the lives of more than 1.5 million underprivileged children and young people around the world. The Foundation emphasizes particularly on those problems that affect present younger generations: poverty, social exclusion, gun culture, gang violence and discrimination.

In Germany, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation supports 16 sports-related social projects aimed at providing young people new skills and bridging communities closer. Since 2001, Germany and Austria have helped more than 50,000 children and young people.

Mesut Özil was born in Germany, grandson of a Turkish immigrant. He is a practicing Muslim and recites the Quran before every match. The German star has been held up as a prime example of successful integration and he is doing a lot in order to promote the cultural integration of the Muslim community in Germany.

In May, during a trip to Mecca the football player paid a visit to a refugee camp in Jordan to play football with some of the refugee children. At the Laureus ceremony held this year in Berlin, Özil affirmed that: "For me, community involvement is very important. Sport, in my case football, has changed my life and influenced me positively. I am eager to give something back to society and to help children and young people who need assistance."

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Cultural Diplomacy News
Jessica Sama, CD News