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BBC Sport's Mike Sewell
"The man who earns more in a week than many would dream of in a lifetime has an understanding of the hard times"
 real 14k

banner Monday, 19 March, 2001, 15:22 GMT
Zidane to spread goodwill
Zinedine Zidane
Highly-paid Zidane joins the war against poverty
French superstar Zinedine Zidane will use his high profile as a goodwill ambassador to help the United Nations to reduce poverty.

The World Cup and Euro 2000 hero was officially appointed for the UN's Development Programme on Monday.

"I've known hard times, too," said Zidane, who was born and raised in a tough suburb of Marseille.

"I lived in difficult places where we didn't have everything. And today I want to help."

Zidane is the second footballer after Brazil's Ronaldo to be appointed a UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) goodwill ambassador.

I think everyone who has money and who has a heart must do something, it's undeniable
  Zinedine Zidane
The Juventus midfielder has already been involved in a number of private humanitarian projects, and teamed up with Ronaldo for a UNDP advertising campaign last year.

Other high profile ambassadors include US actor Danny Glover, Egyptian-born actor Omar Sharif, South African novelist Nadine Gordimer and Japanese actress Misako Kono.

According to the world organisation's statistics, nearly one in five people - some 1.2 billion men, women and children - live in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than a dollar a day.

The agency estimates that 800 million people do not have access to health services, and 500 million are chronically malnourished.

Some 90 million children are unable to attend primary school and 230 million have no access to secondary school.

High salaries

Zizou, as he is popularly known in France, indicated that his new role would present him with a tough challenge.

"Competition behind a football is much easier for me," continued Zidane

"The battle is very difficult. It's not yet won. It won't be easy for me or anyone else.

"But we should not be deterred by the magnitude of remaining problems because the good news is that each of us can do something to help reduce poverty."

Zinedine Zidane
Zidane in action against Germany last month
Zidane claimed that fact he is one of the highest paid players in the world did not compromise his position as the UN's newest ambassador against poverty.

"I think we have those salaries because we deserve it," said the twice elected FIFA Player of the Year.

"I have known difficulty and now I'm taking advantage of what is happening to me.

"I think everyone who has money and who has a heart must do something, it's undeniable."

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See also:

27 Feb 01 |  Europe
Zidane secures French win
22 Dec 00 |  Eng Prem
Henry pips Zidane to award
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