nmf mike farnnan david miliband

Sunderland AFC partner with Nelson Mandela Foundation

Club confirmed as Legacy Advocate For Mandela Foundation.

Sunderland AFC and the Nelson Mandela Foundation are delighted to announce a partnership, which is set to be a first for world football.  

The partnership aims to help to promote the former South African President’s legacy, through the global reach of the Barclays Premier League. Sunderland AFC 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’ ongoing 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. 

The core work of the Foundation is delivered through the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory which focuses on three areas of work: the Life and Times of Nelson Mandela, Dialogue for Social Justice and Nelson Mandela International Day. Its vision is to help create a society which remembers its pasts, listens to all its voices, and pursues social justice in order to promote peace, human rights and democracy.

Across the next 18 months, Sunderland AFC will support a number of fundraising initiatives on behalf of the Foundation, including a Gala dinner planned for later this year. The club 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.”

Achmat Dangor, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, said: “We strive to live up to Nelson Mandela’s ethos of inclusivity and reconciliation. We therefore need to secure the Centre’s financial independence. We are delighted that Sunderland AFC is joining us on this journey and we are sure that with this club’s stature and history our efforts will get a great boost.”  

Sunderland AFC’s Vice Chairman, David Miliband, added: “There is no more iconic figure in the world today than Nelson Mandela. His values of equality, justice and reconciliation are the inspiration to millions and this partnership is a wonderful symbol for Sunderland in Africa and a huge honour for our football club.

“As a club which prides itself on its commitment to charitable work, to the community as a whole through our own Foundation of Light, and to the pursuit of excellence in all we do, we see tremendous potential in working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.  

"The club’s own Foundation has already provided a wonderful platform on which we can build and develop community engagement both in our own region and subsequently on a global platform and by partnering with such an iconic organisation we aim to harness expertise and share knowledge, which will be hugely beneficial to us all.” 

Sunderland AFC 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.

The club’s own registered charity, Foundation of Light, is widely recognised as the blue print for community programmes across British football. It uses the power of football to involve, educate and inspire more than 42,000 young people and their families across the North East of England each year, through a broad range of innovative and award-winning programmes aimed at changing and enhancing lives. 

Pictured: Mike Farnan, SAFC International Marketing Director, Achmat Dangor, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and Sunderland AFC’s Vice Chairman, David Miliband