Mastercard and UEFA Foundation for Children join forces to give the joy of football back to children in the earthquake zone

Mastercard and the UEFA Foundation for Children join forces to launch the "Pitches of Hope" project, an initiative to provide hope for earthquake-affected children and youth.

The facilities will open their doors in June in the most heavily impacted earthquake areas, including Gaziantep Nurdağı, Hatay Antakya, and Adıyaman.

The project will be creating safe football pitches for the children affected by the natural disaster, to improve their mental and physical well-being and to strengthen their peer-to-peer bonds.

Istanbul, June 9th, 2023 – Mastercard, official sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, and the UEFA Foundation for Children join forces for a new project called “Pitches of Hope”. The aim of the project is to support children affected by the earthquakes in line with Mastercard’s corporate social responsibility work. Mastercard will be supporting the international non-governmental organization Save the Children Türkiye, which will build and rehabilitate football fields in the most earthquake-affected regions, including Nurdağı (Gaziantep), Antakya (Hatay), and Adıyaman; and run football programmes with the aim of instilling new hope in children and youth, by harnessing the healing power of sport.

The football fields will be built and rehabilitated starting from the beginning of June, and the pitches will be completed and open to the children by the end of December.


Launched today at a joint event with the attendance of UEFA Ambassador Marco Materazzi, Mastercard and UEFA Equal Game Ambassador Barış Telli, Fatih Terim, and Selçuk Inan, the "Pitches of Hope" project will create safe spaces for earthquake-affected children to play, improve their mental and physical wellbeing, and strengthen their peer-to-peer bonds. As part of the project, experts in child psychology and trauma designed a series of football-based games, which will be implemented under the coordination of Save the Children Türkiye to facilitate the children's recovery process. Each game is meticulously designed to encourage teamwork, enhance resilience, bolster mental well-being, and, above all, allow children to embrace the carefree essence of childhood once more.  It is believed that expressions of joy, celebratory high-fives, and shared laughter serve as crucial initial strides on the path to healing.

 “WE WANT TO GIVE KIDS A CHANCE TO BE KIDS AGAIN” - AVŞAR GÜRDAL, General Manager of Mastercard Türkiye.

From the beginning, Mastercard supported the activities to heal the wounds of the earthquake-affected regions. Initially, we provided financial assistance for humanitarian aid to the region through various non-governmental organisations and we matched employee donations to the cause globally. And today, we are delighted to announce our commitment to a new joint project Pitches of Hope, with the UEFA Foundation for Children. For the past 29 years, Mastercard has been a proud sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, a highly anticipated competition among football fans globally. To crown our longstanding partnership and pass on hope to our children in the earthquake zone, we have joined forces to give them a chance to be kids again, by giving access to safe guarded football fields. Through the ‘Pitches of Hope' project, we aim to eliminate the lingering effects of earthquakes and strive to establish a fresh wellspring of joy and optimism in the lives of children.”

WE’LL PROMOTE CHILDREN’S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING IN A FUN WAY” - URS KLUSER, General Secretary of the UEFA Foundation for Children

“The Pitches for Hope project is a great way to engage the children affected by the earthquake in sport, to promote health and well-being in a fun way, and to help them to overcome their trauma. Thanks to the valuable support of Mastercard, more children will have access to a safe place to play to reconnect with their childhood and hope for a better future.”

“THE PITCHES WILL PROVIDE CHILDREN WITH THE SAFE SPACES KIDS NEED” - OBEN COBAN, Government Relations, Safety and Security Director for Save the Children Türkiye.

"More than four months after the first earthquakes hit, children are still trying to piece their lives back together and adapt to their new realities. As a result, children’s mental well-being is pushed to the limits, unable to move past the distressing experiences they’ve been through. In these conditions, children need crucial support to avoid long-term repercussions on their health, well-being, and development for months or even years to come. We know that the ability to play with friends and loved ones allows children to take a break from their new realities – which is why we are looking forward to supporting the national earthquake response in partnership with Mastercard on ‘Pitches of Hope’. The pitches will provide children with the safe spaces for fun, play, and community they need at such a challenging time.”

The launch event also included a friendly match where children from the earthquake zone had the opportunity to play football with UEFA ambassadors. Following the launch event, the children will have the chance to tour Istanbul along with their families. On the 10th of June, kids will enter the pitch with finalist teams and be player mascots at the UEFA Champions League Final and enjoy being Mastercard’s guests at the stadium, watching the final alongside their families.

Mastercard invites everyone who wishes to support the cause to the Tap-to-donate terminals in the official UEFA Champions League areas around Istanbul.

About Mastercard

Project partner

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all. You can follow us on Twitter at @MasterCard_TR, you can reach all of our newsletters and news kits by clicking on the Mastercard Newsroom link.