Sport

A football club that wants your blood – literally

By Ant Sims 3 July 2012

A football club in Brazil is sending the message of the importance of donating blood by changing its kit – and it will change back, gradually, the more blood is received. By ANT SIMS.

As the years have gone on, football has become more and more commercial. Sponsors dominate shirts and advertising boards and the players are coining it. But what’s increasingly forgotten is that football can also be used as a vehicle to promote powerful messages, to take a stand and create awareness – and that’s exactly what Vitória, a second division club in Brazil, is doing.

The club has started a novel campaign to encourage supporters to donate blood and to raise awareness about the importance of donating blood. Vitoria has changed its traditional kits and will only change back once they’ve driven enough people to donate blood. 

The campaign, entitled ‘My Blood is Red and Black’ is named after the club’s traditional colours, and comes on the back of a nation-wide drive to encourage people in Brazil to donate blood for blood transfusions. Under normal circumstances, the club would play in red and black-hooped shirts with white shorts and red and black socks. Now, players are donning black and white hooped shirts, and will change the kit back bit by bit as more fans donate. 

To launch the campaign, they carried a banner onto the pitch that read: “Vitoria has always given its blood for you. It’s time for you to give yours.”

“We wanted to do more than just ask fans to give blood,” said Vitoria’s president, Alexi Portela Junior. 

“With this initiative, fans of the red and black can participate more actively in the campaign, and they will see the importance of a gesture like this that can help save countless lives.”

Blood donations fall as much as 25% during school holidays and while Brazil are heavily invested in the area, the percentage of blood donors in Brazil is currently only at two percent; the World Health Organisation recommends the number should be three percent.

Vitoria isn’t the first soccer club to use the pitch to deliver a message of the need for blood. Just a few weeks ago, Sao Paulo, one of Brazil’s biggest clubs, put the slogan “Give Blood” on its shirts for a game in another attempt to help raise awareness of the importance of blood donations.

Vitoria’s red hoops will return slowly, with one red hoop being added after every game. The club’s president emphasised that he hopes the short campaign will help with raising awareness. 

To boost their efforts, the club also created a video to go along with the campaign. The video includes a link to a Facebook page which has all the details of where people can go to donate blood. 

It might seem like a simple action, but with the magnitude of football fans in Brazil, the campaign has the potential to reach far and wide. In fact, it has already started to make waves internationally, something which has no doubt exceeded the team’s expectations. 

In a world where footballers are often lambasted for their melodramatic behaviour and frequently get caught at the wrong side of the law, Vitoria’s actions stand head and shoulders above the clichés and negativity currently surrounding the game.  It’s a small gesture, sure, but it’s a rather refreshing one. DM

Photo by Reuters

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