(Reuters) – A Burnley fan who ran from Turf Moor to every away game in the Premier League last season to raise money for charity will be recognised by UEFA at Thursday’s Champions League draw in Monaco, European soccer’s governing body said on Wednesday.
While no Premier League player ran more than 450 km on the pitch in the 2018-19 season, Scott Cunliffe covered nearly 5,000 km as part of the aptly-named ‘RunAway Challenge’ and raised nearly 60,000 pounds for various charities.
Cunliffe could now rub shoulders with the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil Van Dijk, who have been shortlisted for the UEFA Player of the Year award.
“I’m honoured that UEFA has chosen me as a recipient of the #EqualGame Award,” Cunliffe said in a statement. “I believe that sport is a great leveller.
“Everyone should be able to enjoy the sport they love, either as a fan or as a player. I hope my running inspires others to move their legs, hearts and minds, no matter who they are.”
UEFA said 18 charities in Burnley have received 50% of the funds raised by Cunliffe while the other half will be divided between community trusts at other Premier League clubs.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin commended Cunliffe’s initiative, describing it as an “inspiration to many”.
“Through his commitment and hard work, he has raised money to help communities right across his country,” Ceferin said.
“The example Scott has set also provides a clear demonstration of just how physical activity like running or playing football can significantly benefit a person’s health.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)