People give a lot for their club. Mainly it is their loyalty and passion, frequently their money enters the equation too. Yet there cannot be many who could claim to have bled for their team, though many may boldly suggest they would. In Brazil, a club from the north-eastern state of Bahia called Vitoria however are asking their fans to do precisely that.
“My blood is red and black” is the initative of Vitoria, a club with a rich history but currently playing in the second division. The team traditionally wear a red and black hooped kit, but last weekend they removed the red from their kit and adopted a slogan encouraging people to give blood – “Vitoria has always given its blood for you. It’s time for you to give yours”. The team will restore the red hoops to its kit gradually, one game at a time, all the while reminding people of the genuine life-saving importance of giving blood.
The reason for the campaign is that despite heavy investment in the area, not enough Brazilians are coming forward to give blood. According to Reuters only two percent of Brazilians give blood while the World Health Organisation suggests the figure should be closer to three per cent.
It is a innovative initiative that can surely only be of benefit to the wider community. It shows the tremendous outreach that football can have and the way in which it can be used as a tool for social betterment. Club president Alexi Portela Junior said:
“We wanted to do more than just ask fans to give blood. With this initiative, fans of the Rubro-Negro can participate more actively in the campaign and they will see the importance of a gesture like this that can help save countless lives.”
It may be a very smart marketing manoeuvre, but in a win-win situation there can be no complaints. Despite not playing in their traditional kit, Vitoria got off to a winning start in their replacement white and black kit by beating recently-relegated Avai 2-0 at home.
It begs the question as to how a similar campaign would go down in the Premier League. In a league that is worth millions of pounds, a relatively small amount is done in charitable work. Arsenal players lead the way, donating a day’s wages to charity each year. On a wage of £50,000 per week the donation would be just over £7,000, only 0.25% of their yearly salary.
Premier League clubs only occasionally promote racism awareness on the odd occasion. More should be done by English clubs to help put something back into the communities which so fervently support them. The inequality between the general public and their clubs seems greater than ever and it creates a sour taste for many.
Would Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool fans give blood in order to return the red to their teams kit? Of course. Clubs possess an immense following and if they mobilised their support and targeted one positive aim per year, fans would be more than happy to go along with it out of their love for the club.
Football provides a rare platform to contact a huge proportion of the world’s population which could contribute to the myriad problems facing modern society. Perhaps many of the Premier League clubs could take a leaf out of the book of Vitoria and promote not only themselves, but a positive stance on certain problematic issues.
Would you give blood for the colours of your club? Let me know on Twitter @thwebber