Marcus Rashford: UEFA president praises Manchester United forward for free-school-meals win
Ceferin: "I am proud that footballers are leading some of today's most important international debates"
Last Updated: 17/06/20 5:10pm
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has praised Marcus Rashford for using his position as a "vehicle for good".
The Manchester United forward wrote an open letter to MPs this week urging the Government to reverse its decision not to award free school-meals vouchers in England - for which nearly 1.3 million children are eligible - outside of term time.
The Manchester United and England forward followed that up with an impassioned article in The Times on Tuesday, detailing his experience of growing up using food banks and receiving free meals as a child.
That prompted a Government U-turn, with the establishment of a 'COVID summer food fund'.
Ceferin, who also praised other footballers for speaking out for the Black Lives Matter cause, said at a press conference on Wednesday: "I am proud that footballers are leading some of today's most important international debates.
"We have seen players like Raheem Sterling, Marcelo, Jerome Boateng and many others make important stands over Black Lives Matter, and just yesterday we saw Marcus Rashford change Government policy to stop children suffering from hunger.
"Football can really be an important vehicle for good and these examples demonstrate that.
"He's a very popular football player, it's a big, big power and obviously he is a very smart guy. We are impressed by his achievement."
Rashford told Sky Sports that his generation are "not afraid to stand up and be counted".
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UEFA acknowledged their campaigns on diversity haven't been enough and are in talks about improving BAME representation in senior positions.
"We know that the situation is serious, and it is more and more serious every day," said Ceferin.
"It is too early to share it with the public because we haven't decided concretely yet but we know the power of football and the power of governing bodies is huge.
"The campaigns that we had were not enough. We tried a lot but still we should come to the next level."
There are currently no black officials among the 27 people elected by European soccer to the ruling committees of UEFA and FIFA.
The only non-white elected person is Nasser al-Khelaifi, the Qatari president of Paris Saint-Germain who represents clubs in UEFA's decision-making body.