Sunderland and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have announced a partnership, which is set to be a first for world football, reports fcbusiness. The partnership aims to help to promote the former South African President's legacy, through the global reach of the Barclays Premier League.
SAFC will be a Legacy Advocate for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation established in 1999 to support the former South African Presidents' on-going engagement in promoting his legacy of social justice outside the purely political arena following his retirement.
At the same time SAFC hopes to utilise the organisations' knowledge and expertise to continue to raise greater awareness of social issues, such as inclusion and diversity and support football's quest to eradicate racism from within the game.
Across the next 18 months, Sunderland will support a number of fundraising initiatives on behalf of the Foundation and has also designated its forthcoming Barclays Premier League game against Manchester United on March 30th as 'Nelson Mandela Day'. The game will celebrate to partnership and kick off the initial fundraising drive.
On announcing the partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Margaret Byrne, CEO of Sunderland AFC, said: "It is a huge honour for Sunderland AFC to have been selected by the Nelson Mandela Foundation as a Legacy Advocate.
"Our football club prides itself on using its influence wherever it can to strengthen communities and improve lives, whether locally in our own region or on a global platform.
"This is also a fantastic opportunity for us to extend the work we have already begun in Africa. We hope that through our association with such a respected and renowned organisation as the Nelson Mandela Foundation we can promote the positive aspects of football around the world, whilst exploring how we can work together on the hugely important issue of eradicating racism not just from within football but society as a whole."
Sunderland began its off the field relationship with the African continent in 2011 forging a partnership with the Invest In Africa initiative to promote awareness of the opportunities of doing business in Africa.
Linking with Invest in Africa has also helped Sunderland AFC to grow its fanbase and global presence, particularly in Africa, where nearly 1.2 billion people watch Premier League matches.