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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
EU and Fifa to help Africa
Mbeki (left) with Kofi Annan and Sepp Blatter (front row), with Caf boss Issa Hayatou  (back row, right).
The official logo for the 2010 World Cup was launched on Friday

The European Union (EU) and Fifa have agreed to use football to fight against poverty in Africa.

The Memorandum of Understanding, signed on Sunday in Germany, aims to promote development in the poorest countries of Africa as well as the Caribbean and Pacific.

The EU and Fifa will pour US$31.93bn into the so-called ACP countries over the next four years ahead of the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

South Africa president Thabo Mbeki and Alpha Oumar Konare, chairman of the African Union, joined European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and Fifa president Sepp Blatter at the formal signing ceremony at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

Barroso said: "The idea is to use the huge power of football for specific purposes such as fighting Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, helping in growth and development, fighting racism, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination and helping with post-conflict reconstruction and nation-building."

The agreement was signed by Louis Michel, the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, with Blatter signing for Fifa.

Michel added: "We are not giving the money so that people can play football, people will play football whether they have money or not.

"What we are doing is using the power of football to realise projects in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions."

Mbeki shrugged off concern that South Africa would not be ready in time to stage the next World Cup, saying his country had made it a priority to have venues, transport and communications ready.


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