Russell Hargrave: Euro 2020 has been good for charities but bad for our nerves

09 Jul 2021 Voices

Russell Hargrave has found some more nice news about football and charities, ahead of the inevitable crushing disappointment on Sunday

UEFA European Championship Cup with England flag in the background.

The good news is that England won the football on Wednesday. 

The even better news is that this has inspired yet another article on charities and Euro 2020.

So, with all the poise – and hopefully the same happy outcome – as Harry Kane mis-hitting a penalty, let’s look some more at how the voluntary sector is engaging with the tournament.

Giving things away

If you want to pop along to the final, plenty of dodgy websites will sell you a ticket for a five-figure fee. But some fans have been willing to give up a lot more than that.

Sam Astley had a ticket to England’s semi-final this week, but chose not to go so that he could honour a promise to donate stem cells as part of a scheme run by the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.

“There was no chance I was going to delay this,” Astley told the BBC. Anthony Nolan chief executive Hanny Braund called him “a true hero”, which seems a fair description.

Plus he will now go to the final, thanks to some smart, swift PR by one of the tournament sponsors, who have invited him and his partner along as corporate guests.

Everyone’s a winner! Probably except England on Sunday.

Sticky stories

What do you do if you like football and cannot draw to save your lives?

Apparently, the answer is: Create a sticker book full of terrible portraits of footballers and flog them for charity. Alex and Sian Patchett – who go by @CheapPanini on Twitter – are behind the artwork sales, and are more than halfway towards raising £5,000 for Mind.

Alex told the Big Issue: “There’s lots of really talented football illustrators out there and good luck to all of them but that’s not really what we’re about.”

Have a look – it really isn’t.

The shirt off his back

We all know the truth. Marcus Rashford is an attention hog.

So time to give equal billing to his England and Manchester Utd colleague James Reece, who has been doing his own bit to fight food poverty.

Reece worked with The Felix Project in east London earlier in the year to deliver food to hungry families, and raised cash for the charity through a competition to win his shirt from England’s game with Croatia.

That raised around £3,000, and Reece couldn’t look happier about it.

In which we leave Britain to find Global Britain

This is a story from parts foreign, but we all know that French Arsenal legend Thierry Henry is an honorary Brit.

Henry is now an assistant for the Belgian national team, working alongside Spaniard Roberto Martinez (who is also an honorary Brit because of his previous managerial success in Wigan – come on, keep up).

Anyway, Henry says he is going to give his wages from the tournament to “a charity”, which is a bit vague for my tastes but still generally uplifting. There are probably voluntary organisations which cater to the needs of French-turned-Brits-turned-Belgians-helping-Spaniards – if so, get your bids in.

To recap the actual football: Henry’s Belgium, who are very good indeed, lost to Italy, who are even better and will inevitably beat England on Sunday.

At which point we will all have to admit that, while it is not in fact coming home, it has been a lovely month and this thoughtful, charitable, internationalist England team is a credit to us all.

Civil Society Voices is the place for informed opinion, and debate about the big issues affecting charities today. We’re always keen to hear from anyone, working or volunteering at a charity, who has something to say. Find out more about contributing and how to get in touch.


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