Pelé and Beckenbauer, who have both been supporters of the children's welfare organisation for many years, delighted German and French children in the care of SOS Children's Villages by making a joint appearance at their game. The Brazilian and German football stars also attracted more than 60 journalists and photographers, and 10 television crews to the event.
"This is the first time that I have supported SOS Children's Villages together with Franz Beckenbauer", said Pelé. "The idea of SOS Children's Villages is fantastic. I have visited two SOS Children's Villages in South America and Africa and I have seen how this type of support benefits the children."
"I was very happy to attend this event in order to support the '6 villages for 2006' campaign. Everyone should support this project!" added the Brazilian.
The "6 villages for 2006" campaign will run until the end of the 2006 FIFA World Cup TM and aims to collect donations for the construction of six new SOS Children's Villages. These will be built in Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Ukraine and Vietnam and will provide homes for hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children.
"The cooperation between FIFA and SOS Children's Villages is wonderful. Children are at the heart of our world," said Beckenbauer. "I'm 100% convinced that through football, it will be possible to collect funds for the construction of six new SOS Children's Villages until the World Cup."
The children, aged 13 to 17, were visibly excited and enjoyed the occasion in which they were able to collect autographs, shake hands and pose for photographs with the two football idols. The friendly match was a skilful affair and was eventually won 5-2 by the French children.
Beckenbauer, the only man to have won the World Cup both as a player and as a coach, officially kicked-off the children's match but was unable to referee the game as originally planned due to fractured ribs sustained in a fall the previous week.
"The game was fun for the children and a show of friendship and commitment from Beckenbauer and Pelé towards SOS Children's Villages," said Georg Willeit, the executive director of SOS-Kinderdörfer weltweit, the German promoting association. "It's fantastic that both Pelé and Beckenbauer support the '6 villages for 2006' campaign."