BARCELONA: Brazilian football star and FC Barcelona defender, Dani Alves, has shared his passion for the game with Special Olympics footballers in Barcelona just days before the annual Special Olympics European Football Week kicks off.

Donning a Special Olympics jersey during practice shots with the athletes, the Brazilian star showed his strong support for an organization that provides opportunities every day for people with intellectual disabilities to transform their lives through sport.

Special Olympics European Football Week takes place this year from May 17th to 25th with more than 55,000 Special Olympics athletes participating in 420 events across 50 European countries. Supported by UEFA since the year 2000, the week focuses on bringing the wider football community together to promote more opportunities in soccer for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Always a vocal advocate for equal opportunity and respect in football, Dani Alves has been an Ambassador for Special Olympics since 2011. Speaking at the event Alves said “It is important for me to support Special Olympics. We are all equal on the playing field. We can all change our lives through the joy of football.”

“Dani was fantastic with the athletes, spending time to talk with them, take photos and sign autographs” said National Director for Special Olympics Spain, Enric Blesa, ‘The athletes were overwhelmed to meet him and it will certainly be a day they will never forget. We know this is a very busy time for Dani with the 2014 World Cup approaching so we greatly appreciate what he has done for the athletes here today.”

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities offering them opportunities to discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success.

About Special Olympics International:

Special Olympics is an international organisation that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide.  Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4.2 million athletes in 180 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.  Special Olympics takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighbourhood’s backyard to World Games.  Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics;;, and