Vieira defends hunger project

The Manchester City midfielder appeared on a platform alongside

legendary Bulgaria star Hristo Stoichkov as the European

Professional Football League highlighted their plan to tackle world

poverty. Although the aims are clearly laudable, they also leave

Vieira open to the charge of meddling in subjects he has no concept

of given his status as a wealthy player at the richest club in the

most commercially successful league on the planet. It is an

allegation the one-time France international – who was born in

Senegal – strenuously denies. “People have the wrong idea of

footballers,” said Vieira, who was speaking at the annual Soccerex

conference in Manchester. “They have a conscience. They have a

brain. They know what is going on around the world. “We know there

is a lot of money in football. We know we earn a lot of money.

Whether we deserve it is a different debate. “But if most of the

players, the FA and the football authorities have committed

themselves to the fight against hunger it is because we know what

is going on and we know we can change things. “That is why we are

here today. We all want to win this fight. “This fight is more

important than a football game.” It was a view endorsed by

Stoichkov, who recently visited Burkina Faso to see for himself the

poverty that has to be endured in some parts of the world. “I was

poor as a child,” said Stoichkov, who was born in Plovdiv but

eventually became widely accepted as the finest Bulgarian player of

all time due to his exploits at Barcelona. “I will never forget

that. That is why I can talk to people about this problem. “When I

went to Burkina Faso, I slept with the people. I was helping

people. I was playing football in the soil, not on the grass. This

is not a discovery for me. I know. “Even if I have money now, my

obligation is to ensure the people know I have not forgotten what

happened before.”