This year’s 10th anniversary of the award ceremony of the non-profit association German Football Ambassadors e.V. was again celebrated with numerous celebrities at the Federal Foreign Office. The first award of the evening went to Manchester City’s Ilkay Gündogan, who won the Public Award 2022 in an online vote by international soccer fans ahead of Sarah Däbritz (Paris Saint-Germain) and Toni Kroos (Real Madrid).
Gündogan thanked everyone who voted for him, saying, “It is a great honor and privilege, but also see the responsibility to continue my work off the field.”
The honorary award then went to the legend Franz Beckenbauer, who was honored for his life’s work. World champion as a player and coach, countless other titles, and then bringing the summer fairy tale to Germany, which was to completely change Germany’s external image. But Franz Beckenbauer has also been involved in the social sector with his foundation for 40 years now. The winner thanked via video, as he was unable to be there in person due to the stress of travel. Heidrun Beckenbauer accepted the award on behalf of her husband from Reiner Calmund, who also gave the laudatory speech. A portrait by the painter Flör was also presented, complementing the “Champs for Charity” art campaign that was first introduced at last year’s award ceremony with the support of Berti Vogts, Bernd Schuster or Uli Hoeneß.
Before the main category was awarded, painter Ivan Beslic, who most recently portrayed Kylian Mbappé and Christiano Ronaldo, presented an original work with the soccer ambassador’s logo, world record holder in soccer freestyle Mo Jamal gave a demonstration of his skills, and the Walk&Give project was introduced together with 2020 football ambassador, Anja Zivkovic – a nationwide fundraising walk campaign.
Another highlight was the panel discussion moderated by Dr. Norbert Taubken (Partner at Scholz & Friends Reputation) on the topic of “Female Empowerment”, where strong women such as the reigning Miss Germany Domitila Barros or the Football Ambassador of 2014, Monika Staab and Nominated Coach of 2019, Petra Landers, discussed together.
In the final main category, Jochen Figge, who worked abroad for almost forty years, prevailed over the former coach of the Austrian national team Franco Foda, as well as the trainer Dr. Carolin Braun, who previously worked in Botswana. All three nominees, who beat out dozens of competitors in the run-up to the award, were there in person in Berlin. The high-caliber jury did not have an easy choice, as the nominees were all convincing in different ways, but were all successful.
Dr. Carolin Braun spent several years on a long-term project in Botswana, and her prize money will also be donated to a social cause. Franco Foda, who has celebrated great successes with Graz and the Austrian national team for twenty years, decided to donate the prize money to the organization Special Olympics Austria, where he was already involved before.
Jochen Figge has been working abroad for four decades and has also coached numerous national teams, among others, until Corona put an end to his last engagement in Belize. So, his prize money will also go there, to a project led by former national goalkeeper Shane Orio. He was modest and happy: “The nomination was already a great honor for me – I’m really happy about the award.”
This year, too, it became clear that the club is now a soccer ambassador family. In addition to the personalities from the soccer world, there were not only numerous ambassadors from other countries or top representatives from associations and clubs, but also athletes from other disciplines, most notably three-time Olympic champion Maria Höfl-Riesch.
The president of the German Football Ambassador e.V., Roland Bischof, concluded the evening by saying: “It makes me very proud what we have built up over the last ten years.”