Nane Annan, wife of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, said Saturday that the well-being of children throughout the world should be a focus during the World Cup 2002.

Annan, who is currently visiting Tokyo as a special envoy of UNICEF, made the comments during a ceremony to celebrate the World Football Day for Children, set for June 19 by FIFA and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

The special day has been designated to promote the rights of children during the World Cup soccer finals that is expected to attract billions of TV viewers around the world. The finals start May 31 and will be jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea.

Through the campaign, UNICEF and FIFA promote 10 imperatives for children, including education and protection from war and conflict.

“I know the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of children to play and recreation,” said Annan during the ceremony at UNICEF House in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

Of the world’s children, 13 million have been orphaned by AIDS, and 120 million cannot go to school due to poverty, according to UNICEF.

At the ceremony, four children from the Kobe Angels, a girls soccer team, asked Annan to give more than 650 soccer balls they collected to Afghan children.

Annan praised the girls’ efforts and thanked them for helping Afghan children.

Prince and Princess Takamado also attended the ceremony, and Annan and president of the Japan Football Association Shunichiro Okano signed autographs on an official World Cup soccer ball.

UNICEF and FIFA are planning to hold events involving soccer players and children on the World Football Day for Children.

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