Russian international Andrey Arshavin, one of his country's most popular football players, was officially appointed a "FIFA for SOS Children's Villages" ambassador in June 2005, in a ceremony at the organisation's children's village in Pushkin near St. Petersburg.
"SOS Children's Villages is one of the most humane and generous models of a family approach for the long-term care of children," said Arshavin, adding that he hoped to attract the attention of friends, colleagues and the community to the cause of SOS Children's Villages.
Arshavin, who plays for St. Petersburg club Zenit, also pledged his support for 6 villages for 2006. "The cooperation between FIFA and SOS Children's Villages is a great idea. I will try to contribute as much as possible to this project," he said.
In May 2005, Arshavin visited the SOS Children's Village near St. Petersburg and delighted the children by bringing along souvenirs, signing autographs, visiting a family house, having his photograph taken with the children and playing a match of football with them. The children could not stop chanting "Arshavin, Arshavin!"
In addition, Arshavin also presented the children with tickets for Zenit's match the following day, which the children attended with their faces painted in the club's blue and white colours. In fact, it was agreed that children in the care of SOS Children's Villages would accompany the team captains onto the pitch at all of Zenit's home matches in St. Petersburg.