GENEVA (Reuters) – Neymar, fresh from his first win with Paris St. Germain and his world-record signing for the club, became a goodwill ambassador for Handicap International on Tuesday, pledging to work for millions who are “less visible” but deserve equality.
The Brazilian forward, whose 222 million-euro ($259.72 million) signing from Barcelona this month doubled the world- record transit fee, mounted a huge statue of a chair outside the U.N. in Geneva that symbolizes landmine victims.
He kicked a soccer ball to fans standing below and into the U.N. grounds. Surrounded by his parents, Neymar Santos Senior and Nadine Santos, he wore a black baseball cap and Handicap International black t-shirt with the inscription “Repair Lives”.
“I would like to begin by thanking you all for what you do for the least visible in the world, so they become more visible.
I have to say that I am very pleased to be here and to be the new ambassador,” the 25-year-old told a news briefing.
“I hope this will be a very successful partnership and that we will be able to help a large number of people,” he said. “Millions want their rights, they want to be treated better. That’s what we are here for and that is what our aim is.”
Neymar, asked what work or field visits he planned, replied:
“Obviously the practical part of this partnership still has to be discussed. I know that my image is very powerful and can help.”
The charity was founded in 1982 to assist 6,000 Cambodian refugees who had lost limbs and later co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) in 1992 which won the Nobel Peace Prize.
“What people may not realize is that beyond this exceptional sportsman, there is of course a conscience and a voice,” said Manuel Patrouillard, managing director of Handicap International. “A voice which Neymar Jr. decided to put to the service of others, specifically for the most vulnerable, which our organization works for,” he said.
(This version of the story has been corrected to change Monday to Tuesday in the first paragraph)
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay