The phrase ‘Tiki-taka’ has been tickling the tongue of all football fans ever since Barcelona and Spain passed their way to unrivalled domestic and international glory.
And the craze has proved to be contagious with all manner of club sides catching the tiki-taka bug and striving to be pass masters.
With that in mind, Global Partner of the UEFA Europa League, The Western Union Company, has announced that, over 250,000 successful passes have been made since the launch of its three-season PASS initiative in September 2012.
With the PASS initiative, Western Union and the Western Union Foundation, in collaboration with UNICEF, are turning every successful pass in the UEFA Europa League into funding for better education, harnessing the power of football to support vulnerable children around the world.
At the end of last season, the PASS fund totaled 178,231 passes, a figure which has now reached 282,568 since the 2013/14 season started on September 19, 2013.
The top 5 clubs/players for passing in the UEFA Europa League 2013/14 season to date are as follows :
Leading Passing Teams
1. Tottenham Hotspur FC (3,673)
2. Swansea City AFC (3,269)
3. AZ Alkmaar (2,663)
4. Valencia CF (2,651)
5. PSV Eindhoven (2,532)
Leading Passing Players
1. Mousa Dembélé, Tottenham Hotspur FC (451)
2. Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, AZ Alkmaar (352)
3. Thanos Petsos, SK Rapid Wien (346)
4. Alexandros Tziolis, PAOK FC (340)
5. Jan Wuytens, AZ Alkmaar (337)
In September, Western Union announced that Jamaica, Nigeria and Turkey were the first countries to receive funding raised by the PASS initiative. In Jamaica, PASS is supporting UNICEF programs aiming to achieve high levels of attendance, retention, numeracy and literacy among secondary school children with a focus on adolescent boys.
In Nigeria, Western Union is helping increase the number of qualified female teachers and, in turn, the enrollment of female students, contributing to UNICEF’s efforts to meet the country’s need for 1.3 million more qualified teachers in the country.
In Turkey, funding raised by the PASS initiative is being used to ensure disadvantaged children and ethnic minorities have access to a quality secondary education, with a focus on rural and low income areas where only 30 percent of children attend secondary school.
As part of Western Union’s three-year partnership with UNICEF, Brazil will be a future recipient of funding from the PASS initiative.
Brazilian International and Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder, Sandro said: “The Western Union PASS scheme means a lot to me because we can help children go to school, and children in Brazil need this help as some children are very poor”.
“It means a lot to me also because I am from Brazil so I can help children from my home country and around the world. I’m so happy on the pitch doing my job and helping people around the world. Tottenham are the highest passing team this season and that is amazing – I feel great, helping people, it’s amazing.”