Real Madrid, FC Bayern Munich and Inter Milan have announced plans for a ‘European Solidarity Cup’ to raise funds for medical infrastructure in Spain and Italy and ‘send a message of solidarity’ following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The three teams have agreed to compete in the round-robin, group-format event in 2021, at a time that will depend on available space in the match calendar and when football can be played in front of spectators again.
All of the proceeds from the matches will be donated to medical facilities in Italy and Spain. The two countries have been hit hard by the pandemic, with Italy having registered over 32,000 deaths from the virus so far, the second-highest number in Europe, and Spain registering nearly 28,000 fatalities. Germany has fared slightly better, registering just over 8,000 deaths in the most recent figures available.
“Despite all the suffering and all the problems, we in Germany are perhaps fortunate that our healthcare system is proving resilient in this crisis,” said FC Bayern chairman and chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in a statement on the Bayern Munich website.
“But we have also seen horrifying images from Italy and Spain, both countries among those hardest hit in Europe by the pandemic. We Germans have a very special relationship with both countries; Italy, like Spain, is one of our favourite holiday destinations.”
One match in the ‘European Solidarity Cup – Football for Heroes’ competition will be staged in each city, with Real Madrid scheduled to play Inter at home in Madrid, Inter to play Bayern in Milan and Bayern to host Real Madrid in Munich.
“Nurses, carers and doctors in particular are doing an outstanding job for society at the moment,” Rummenigge continued. “We want to pay tribute to this, and that’s why it is called ‘Football for Heroes’. FC Bayern will invite 5,000 nurses, carers and doctors to the Allianz Arena for the match against Real Madrid. We, the three clubs, want to show these heroes our appreciation, respect and gratitude.”
Bayern Munich played Union Berlin last Sunday as Germany’s Bundesliga became the only top-tier European football league to return to action when it scheduled matches behind closed doors at the weekend.
The five matches to kick off at 3:30pm (CET) on Saturday attracted 3.68 million viewers for domestic pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland. In the US, overnight ratings for Dortmund v Schalke on pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports were reported as being 725-per-cent up on the last Bundesliga match shown on the channel.