BERN, SWITZERLAND- They came for this football friendly match, but not only to root for the two teams. They came especially for their kababayans who would benefit from the proceeds of the game.
Filipinos in Switzerland were among the 20,128 people who watched the 11th charity Match against Poverty organized by the United Nations Development Programme this week at the Stade de Suisse here.
An international team of football legends led by Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo fought back to win the match 8-6 against the BSC Young Boys team from Bern, before an appreciative crowd who braved wintry cold to watch their football idols play in the flesh.
The Filipinos were led by the Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie J. Baja as well as Embassy staff here in Berne and members of the Philippine Mission in Geneva.
A sizeable group of the Filipino community in Switzerland, now estimated to number from 10,000 to 15,000, also showed up to give their support. Some were already second-generation Swiss-Filipinos.
Filipino fans who came to support the friendly football match
Oscar Laxa, a service worker of the Portuguese Embassy here, said this was the first time he had seen a football match at the world-class stadium here.
"Andito ako para magbigay ng suporta para sa ating mga kababayang nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda," said Laxa.
According to the UNDP, up to two-thirds of the game proceeds would go to the typhoon recovery efforts in the Philippines.
Another resident of Berne, Eric Castro, said he only bought his tickets on game day.
"Late kong nalaman ang game, pero pinagsikapan ko talagang bumili ng ticket para naman makabigay ng suporta sa mga kababayan natin," Castro said.
Added Perla Mina, a nurse working in Bern: "Para sa Pilipinas ang larong ito, kaya dapat lang naman nating suportahan."
The international team featured UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors Ronaldo, Zinédine Zidane and Marta Vieira da Silva, as well as other football legends Luís Figo, Fabio Cannavaro and Patrick Vieira, Deco, Pavel Nedv?d, and Roberto Carlos.
At the final whistle, it was not the score that mattered for the Filipinos who came for the friendly. It was the thought that once again, they were able to help their kababayans in need.